y <A ^_ K-'
- "^/"-''tV ,A
. O ,
THE FIRST MEN IN
I was progressing in great leaps and bounds "
The First Men
in the Moon
Hf G ' Wells
Author of " Tales of Space and Time,"
" Love and Mr. Lewisham,"
and <' Anticipations "
"Three thousand stadia from the earth to the
moon. . . . Marvel not, my comrade, if I appear
talking to yofl on super-terrestrial and aerial topics.
The long and the short of the matter is that I am
running over the order of a Journey I have lately
made." — Lucian 's Icaromenippus
George Newnes, Limited
Southampton Street, Strand
MR. BEDFORD MEETS MR. CAVOR AT LYMPNE
THE FIRST MAKING OF CAVORITE
THE BUILDING OF THE SPHERE
INSIDE THE SPHERE
THE JOURNEY TO THE MOON
THE LANDING ON THE MOON
SUNRISE ON THE MOON
A LUNAR MORNING
LOST MEN IN THE MOON
THE MOONCALF PASTURES
THE SELENITE's FACE .
MR. CAVOR MAKES SOME SUGGESTIONS
EXPERIMENTS IN INTERCOURSE
THE GIDDY BRIDGE
POINTS OF VIEW ....
THE FIGHT IN THE CAVE OF THE
XVIII. IN THE SUNLIGHT
XIX. MR. BEDFORD ALONE . . . . .221
XX. MR. BEDFORD IN INFINITE SPACE . .238
XXI. MR. BEDFORD AT LITTLESTONE . . . 249
XXII. THE ASTONISHING COMMUNICATION OF MR.
JULIUS WENDIGEE 27 1
XXIII. AN ABSTRACT OF THE SIX MESSAGES FIRST
RECEIVED FROM MR. CAVOR . . .277
XXIV. THE NATURAL HISTORY OF THE SELENITES . 289
XXV. THE GRAND LUNAR 316
XXVI. THE LAST MESSAGE CAVOR SENT TO THE
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
** I WAS PROGRESSING IN GREAT LEAPS AND
Bounds" ...... Frontispiece
*' He GESTICULATED WITH HIS HaNDS AND
Arms" ...... To face page 6
"I LOOKED BACK AT HIS RECEDING FiGURE " ,, ,, II
*'I SAT across THE EDGE OF THE MaNHOLE
AND LOOKED DOWN INTO THE BlACK IN-
TERIOR" . . . . . ,, ,, 54
*'We WATCHED INTENSELY" . . • j. ,> 87
"I REALISED MY LeAP HAD BEEN TOO VIOLENT" ,, ,, lOI
*' Insects," murmured Cavor, "Insects" . „ „ 130
"There the Thing was, looking at Us" . ,, „ 137
"Bedford," he whispered, "there's a sort
of Light in front of Us " . . . ,, ,, 177
" The nearer I struggled, the more awfully
remote it seemed . . . • s, >> 236
"They carried Him into Darkness". . „ ,, 292
The Grand Lunar . . . . », ,» 322
THE FIRST MEN IN
MR. BEDFORD MEETS MR. CAVOR AT LYMPNE
As I sit down to write here amidst the
shadows of vine-leaves under the blue sky of
southern Italy, it comes to me with a certain
quality of astonishment that my participation
in these amazing adventures of Mr. Cavor
was, after all, the outcome of the purest acci-
dent. It might have been any one. I fell
into these things at a time when I thought
myself removed from the slightest possibility
of disturbing experiences. I had gone to
Lympne because I had imagined it the most
uneventful place in the world. ** Here, at any
rate," said I, " I shall find peace and a chance
to work ! "
''And this book is the sequel. So utterly at
2 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
variance is Destiny with all the little plans of
I may perhaps mention here that very re-
cently I had come an ugly cropper in certain
business enterprises. Sitting now surrounded
by all the circumstances of wealth, there is
a luxury in admitting my extremity. I can
admit, even, that to a certain extent my dis-
asters were conceivably of my own making. It
may be there are directions in which I have
some capacity, but the conduct of business
operations is not among these. But in those
days I was young, and my youth among other
objectionable forms took that of a pride in my
capacity for affairs. I am young still in years,
but the things that have happened to me have
rubbed something of the youth from my mind.
Whether they have brought any wisdom to
light below it is a more doubtful matter.
It is scarcely necessary to go into the details
of the speculations that landed me at Lympne,
in Kent. Nowadays even about business trans-
actions there is a strong spice of adventure.
I took risks. In these things there is invari-
ably a certain amount of give and take, and it
fell to me finally to do the giving., Reluctantly
enough. Even when I had got out of every-
thing, one cantankerous creditor saw fit to be
MR, BEDFORD MEETS MR. CAVOR 3
malignant. Perhaps you have met that flaming
sense of outraged virtue, or perhaps you have
only felt it. He ran me hard It seemed to
me, at last, that there was nothing for it but to
write a play, unless I wanted to drudge for my
living as a clerk. I have a certain imagination,
and luxurious tastes, and I meant to make a
vigorous fight for it before that fate overtook
me. In addition to my belief in my powers as
a business man, I had always in those days had
an idea that I was equal to writing a very good
play. It is not, I believe, a very uncommon
persuasion. I knew there is nothing a man
can do outside legitimate business transactions
that has such opulent possibilities, and very
probably that biased my opinion. I had, in-
deed, got into the habit of regarding this un-
written drama as a convenient little reserve
put by for a rainy day. That rainy day had
come and I set to work.
I soon discovered that writing a play was a
longer business than I had supposed ; at first
I had reckoned ten days for it, and it was to
have a pied-a-terre while it was in hand that I
came to Lympne. I reckoned myself lucky in
getting that little bungalow. I got it on a
three years' agreement. I put in a few sticks
of furniture, and while the play was in hand
4 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
I did my own cooking. My cooking would
have shocked Mrs. Bond. And yet, you know,
it had flavour. I had a coffee-pot, a sauce-pan
for eggs, and one for potatoes, and a frying-
pan for sausages and bacon — such was the
simple apparatus of my comfort. One cannot
always be magnificent, but simplicity is always
a possible alternative. For the rest I laid in
an elghteen-gallon cask of beer on credit, and
a trustful baker came each day. It was not,
perhaps, in the style of Sybarls, but I have
had worse times. I was a little sorry for the
baker, who was a very decent man indeed, but
even for him I hoped.
Certainly if any one wants solitude, the place
is Lympne. It is in the clay part of Kent, and
my bungalow stood on the edge of an old sea
cliff and stared across the flats of Romney
Marsh at the sea. In very wet weather the
place is almost inaccessible, and I have heard
that at times the postman used to traverse the
more succulent portions of his route with boards
upon his feet. I never saw him doing so, but
I can quite imagine It. Outside the doors of
the few cottages and houses that make up the
present village big birch besoms are stuck, to
wipe off the worst of the clay, which will give
some idea of the texture of the district. I
MR. BEDFORD MEETS MR. CAVOR 5
doubt if the place would be there at all, if it
were not a fading memory of things gone for
ever. It was the big port of England in
Roman times, Portus Lemanus, and now the
sea is four miles away. All down the steep
hill are boulders and masses of Roman brick-
work, and from it old Watling Street, still
paved in places, starts like an arrow to the
north. I used to stand on the hill and think
of it all, the galleys and legions, the captives
and officials, the women and traders, the specu-
lators like myself, all the swarm and tumult
that came clanking in and out of the harbour.
And now just a few lumps of rubble on a
grassy slope, and a sheep or two — and me !
And where the port had been were the levels
of the marsh, sweeping round in a broad curve
to distant Dungeness, and dotted here and
there with tree clumps and the church towers
of old mediaeval towns that are following
Lemanus now towards extinction.
That outlook on the marsh was, indeed, one
of the finest views I have ever seen. I sup-
pose Dungeness was fifteen miles away ; it
lay like a raft on the sea, and further westward
were the hills by Hastings under the setting
sun. Sometimes they hung close and clear,
sometimes they were faded and low, and often
6 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
the drift of the weather took them clean out of
sight. And all the nearer parts of the marsh
were laced and lit by ditches and canals.
The window at which I worked looked over
the skyline of this crest, and it was from this
window that I first set eyes on Cavor. It
was just as I was struggling with my scenario,
holding down my mind to the sheer hard work
of it, and naturally enough he arrested my
The sun had set, the sky was a vivid tran-
quillity of green and yellow, and against that
he came out black — the oddest little figure.
He was a short, round-bodied, thin-legged
little man, with a jerky quality in his motions ;
he had seen fit to clothe his extraordinary
mind in a cricket cap, an overcoat, and cycling
knickerbockers and stockings. Why he did
so I do not know, for he never cycled and he
never played cricket. It was a fortuitous
concurrence of garments, arising I know not
how. He gesticulated with his hands and
arms, and jerked his head about and buzzed.
He buzzed like something electric. You
never heard such buzzing. And ever and
again he cleared his throat with a most extra-
There had been rain, and tliat spasmodic
" He gesticulated with his hands and arms
MR. BEDFORD MEETS MR. CAVOR 7
walk of his was enhanced by the extreme
slipperiness of the footpath. Exactly as he
came against the sun he stopped, pulled out
a watch, hesitated. Then with a sort of
convulsive gesture he turned and retreated
with every manifestation of haste, no longer
gesticulating, but going with ample strides
that showed the relatively large size of his
feet — they were, I remember, grotesquely ex-
aggerated in size by adhesive clay — to the
best possible advantage.
This occurred on the first day of my sojourn,
when my play-writing energy was at its height,
and I regarded the incident simply as an
annoying distraction — the waste of five minutes.
I returned to my scenario. But when next
evening the apparition was repeated with re-
markable precision, and again the next even-
ing, and indeed every evening when rain was
not falling, concentration upon the scenario
became a considerable effort. ''Confound the
man," said I, "one would think he was learn-
ing to be a marionette ! " and for several
evenings I cursed him pretty heartily.
Then my annoyance gave way to amaze-
ment and curiosity. Why on earth should
a man do this thing? On the fourteenth
evening I could stand it no longer, and so
8 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
soon as he appeared I opened the French
window, crossed the verandah, and directed
myself to the point where he invariably
He had his watch out as I came up to him.
He had a chubby, rubicund face with reddish
brown eyes — previously I had seen him only
against the light. " One moment, sir," said I
as he turned.
He stared. ** One moment," he said, '' cer-
tainly. Or if you wish to speak to me for
longer, and it is not asking too much — your
moment is up — would it trouble you to ac-
company me ? "
" Not in. the least," said I, placing myself
** My habits are regular. My time for inter-
course — limited."
'* This, I presume, is your time for exer-
'' It is. I come here to enjoy the sunset."
** You don't."
** You never look at it."
" Never look at it ? "
** No. I've watched you thirteen nights,
and not once have you looked at the sunset
— not once."
MR. BEDFORD MEETS MR. CAVOR 9
He knitted his brows like one who en-
counters a problem.
"Well, I enjoy the sunlight — the atmos-
phere — I go along this path, through that
gate" — he jerked his head over his shoulder
— "and round "
"You don't. You never have been. It's
all nonsense. There isn't a way. To-night,
for instance "
" Oh ! to-night ! Let me see. Ah ! I just
glanced at my watch, saw that I had already
been out just three minutes over the precise
half-hour, decided there was not time to go
round, turned "
"You always do."
He looked at me — reflected. " Perhaps I
do, now I come to think of it. But what
was it you wanted to speak to me about ? "
" Why, this ! "
"Yes. Why do you do it? Every night
you come making a noise "
" Making a noise ? "
" Like this " — I imitated his buzzing noise.
He looked at me, and it was evident the
buzzing awakened distaste. ** Do I do that?''
" Every blessed evening."
lo THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
'' I had no idea."
He stopped dead. He regarded me gravely.
*'Can it be," he said, ''that I have formed a
'' Well, it looks like it. Doesn't it ? "
He pulled down his lower lip between finger
and thumb. He regarded a puddle at his
*' My mind is much occupied," he said.
''And you want to know w/iy f Well, sir, I
can assure you that not only do I not know
why I do these things, but I did not even
know I did them. Come to think, it is just
as you say ; I never Aave been beyond that
field . . . And these things annoy you ? "
For some reason I was beginning to relent
towards him. " Not annoy!' I said. " But —
imagine yourself writing a play ! "
** I couldn't."
" Well, anything that needs concentration."
"Ah!" he said, "of course," and meditated.
His expression became so eloquent of distress,
that I relented still more. After all, there is a
touch of aggression in demanding of a man
you don't know why he hums on a public
" You see," he said weakly, " it's a habit."
" Oh, I recognise that."
I looked back at his receding figure "
MR, BEDFORD MEETS MR. CAVOR ii
*' I must stop it."
'' But not if it puts you out. After all, I
had no business — it's something of a liberty."
*' Not at all, sir," he said, "not at all. I
am greatly indebted to you. I should guard
myself against these things. In future I will.
Could I trouble you — once again? That
*' Something like this," I said. ** Zuzzoo,
zuzzoo. But really, you know "
" I am greatly obliged to you. In fact, I
know I am getting absurdly absent-minded.
You are quite justified, sir — perfectly justified.
Indeed, I am indebted to you. The thing
shall end. And now, sir, I have already
brought you further than I should have
'' I do hope my impertinence "
" Not at all, sir, not at all."
We regarded each other for a moment. I
raised my hat and wished him a good evening.
He responded convulsively, and so we went
At the stile I looked back at his receding
figure. His bearing had changed remarkably,
he seemed limp, shrunken. The contrast with
his former gesticulating, zuzzoing self took me
in some absurd way as pathetic. I watched
12 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
him out of sight. Then wishing very heartily
I had kept to my own business, I returned to
my bungalow and my play.
The next evening I saw nothing of him, nor
the next. But he was very much in my mind,
and it had occurred to me that as a sentimental
comic character he might serve a useful pur-
pose in the development of my plot. The
third day he called upon me.
For a time I was puzzled to think what had
brought him. He made indifferent conversa-
tion in the most formal way, then abruptly he
came to business. He wanted to buy me out
of my bungalow.
" You see," he said, *' I don't blame you in
the least, but you've destroyed a habit, and it
disorganises my day. I've walked past here
for years — years. No doubt I've hummed
. . . "^5:01 ve made all that impossible ! "
I suggested he might try some other direc-
"No. There is no other direction. This
is the only one. I've inquired. And now —
every afternoon at four — I come to a dead
'' But, my dear sir, if the thing is so im-
portant to you "
*' It's vital. You see, I'm — I'm an investi-
MR. BEDFORD MEETS MR. CAVOR i^
gator — I am engaged in a scientific research,
I live — " he paused and seemed to think.
"Just over there," he said, and pointed
suddenly dangerously near my eye. " The
house with white chimneys you see just over
the trees. And my circumstances are ab-
normal — abnormal. I am on the point of
completing one of the most important demon-
strations — I can assure you one of ifke most
important demonstrations that have ever been
made. It requires constant thought, constant
mental ease and activity. And the afternoon
was my brightest time ! — effervescing with
new ideas — new points of view."
" But why not come by still ? "
" It would be all different. I should be
self-conscious. I should think of you at your
play — watching me irritated — instead of think-
ing of my work. No ! I must • ^e the
I meditated. Naturally, I wanted to think
the matter over thoroughly before anything
decisive was said. I was generally ready
enough for business in ' those days, and selling
always attracted me ; but in the first place it
was not my bungalow, and even if I sold
it to him at a good price I might get incon-
venienced in the delivery of goods if the
14 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
current owner got wind of the transaction,
and in the second I was, well — undischarged.
It was clearly a business that required delicate
handling. Moreover, the possibility of his
being in pursuit of some valuable invention
also interested me. It occurred to me that I
would like to know more of this research, not
with any dishonest intention, but simply with
an idea that to know what it was would be a
relief from play-writing. I threw out feelers.
He was quite willing to supply information.
Indeed, once he was fairly under way the con-
versation became a monologue. He talked
like a man long pent up, who has had it over
with himself again and again. He talked for
nearly an hour, and I must confess I found it a
pretty stiff bit of listening. But through it all
there was the undertone of satisfaction one feels
when one is neglecting work one has set one-
self. During that first interview I gathered
very little of the drift of his work. Half his
words were technicalities entirely strange to
me, and he illustrated one or two points with
what he was pleased to call elementary mathe-
matics, computing on an envelope with a
copying-ink pencil, in a manner that made it
hard even to 3eem to understand. *'Yes," I
said ; '' yes. Go on ! " Nevertheless I made
MR. BEDFORD MEETS MR. CAVOR 15
out enough to convince me that he was no
mere crank playing at discoveries. In spite
of his crank-like appearance there was a force
about him that made that impossible. What-
ever it was, it was a thing with mechanical
possibilities. He told me of a work-shed he
had, and of three assistants — originally jobbing
carpenters — whom he had trained. Now, from
the work-shed to the patent office is clearly
only one step. He invited me to see those
things. I accepted readily, and took care, by
a remark or so, to underline that. The pro-
posed transfer of the bungalow remained very
conveniently in suspense.
At last he rose to depart, with an apology
for the length of his call. Talking over his
work was, he said, a pleasure enjoyed only too
rarely. It was not often he found such an
intelligent listener as myself, he mingled very
little with professional scientific men.
" So much pettiness," he explained ; '' so
much intrigue ! And really, when one has an
idea — a novel, fertilising idea — I don't want
to be uncharitable, but "
I a<n a man who believes in impulses. I
made what was perhaps a rash proposition.
But you must remember that I had been alone,
play-writing in Lympne, for fourteen days,
i6 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
and my compunction for his ruined walk still
hung about me. " Why not," said I, " make
this your new habit? In the place of the one
I spoilt ? At least, until we can settle about
the bungalow. What you want is to turn over
your work in your mind. That you have
always done during your afternoon walk. Un-
fortunately that's over — you cant get things
back as they were. But why not come and
talk about your work to me ; use me as a sort
of wall against which you may throw your
thoughts and catch them again? It's certain
I don't know enough to steal your ideas myself
— and I know no scientific men "
I stopped. He was considering. Evidently
the thing attracted him. '' But I'm afraid I
should bore you," he said.
*' You think I'm too dull ? "
** Oh no ; but technicalities "
" Anyhow, you've interested me immensely
" Of course it would be a great help to me.
Nothing clears up one's ideas so much as
explaining them. Hitherto "
" My dear sir, say no more."
** But really can you spare the time ? "
*' There is no rest like change of occupation,"
I said, with profound conviction.
MR. BEDFORD MEETS MR. CAVOR 17
The affair was over. On my verandah steps
he turned. " I am already greatly Indebted
to you," he said.
I made an interrogative noise.
" You have completely cured me of that
ridiculous habit of humming," he explained.
I think I said I was glad to be of any
service to him, and he turned away.
Immediately the train of thought that our
conversation had suggested must have resumed
its sway. His arms began to wave in their
former fashion. The faint echo of '* zuzzoo "
came back to me on the breeze. ...
Well, after all, that was not my affair. . . .
He came the next day, and again the next
day after that, and delivered two lectures on
physics to our mutual satisfaction. He talked
with an air of being extremely lucid about the
** ether," and "tubes of force," and '* gravita-
tional potential," and things like that, and I sat
in my other folding-chair and said, '' Yes,"
*' Go on," " I follow you," to keep him going.
It was tremendously difficult stuff, but I do
not think he ever suspected how much I did
not understand him. There were moments
when I doubted whether I was well employed,
but at any rate I was resting from that con-
founded play. Now and then things gleamed
i8 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
on me clearly for a space, only to vanish just
when I thought I had hold of them. Some-
times my attention failed altogether, and I
would give it up and sit and stare at him,
wondering whether, after all, it would not be
better to use him as a central figure in a good
farce and let all this other stuff slide. And
then, perhaps, I would catch on again for a bit.
At the earliest opportunity I went to see
his house. It was large and carelessly fur-
nished ; there were no servants other than
his three assistants, and his dietary and pri-
vate life were characterised by a philosophical
simplicity. He was a water-drinker, a vege-
tarian, and all those logical disciplinary things.
But the sight of his equipment settled many
doubts. It looked like business from cellar
to attic — an amazing little place to find in
an out-of-the-way village. The ground-floor
rooms contained benches and apparatus, the
bakehouse and scullery boiler had developed
into respectable furnaces, dynamos occupied
the cellar, and there was a gasometer in the
garden. He showed it to me with all the
confiding zest of a man who has been living
too much alone. His seclusion was overflow-
ing now in an excess of confidence, and I had
the good luck to be the recipient.
MR. BEDFORD MEETS MR. CAVOR 19
The three assistants were creditable speci-
mens of the class of ** handy-men " from which
they came. Conscientious if unintelligent,
strong, civil, and willing. One, Spargus, who
did the cooking and all the metal work, had
been a sailor ; a second, Gibbs, was a joiner ;
and the third was an ex-jobbing gardener, and
now general assistant. They were the merest
labourers. All the intelligent work was done
by Cavor. Theirs was the darkest ignorance
compared even with my muddled impression.
And now, as to the nature of these inquiries.
Here, unhappily, comes a grave difficulty. I
am no scientific expert, and if I were to
attempt to set forth in the highly scientific
language of Mr. Cavor the aim to which his
experiments tended, I am afraid I should
confuse not only the reader but myself, and
almost certainly I should make some blunder
that would bring upon me the mockery of
every up - to - date student of mathematical
physics in the country. The best thing I
can do therefore is, I think, to give my im-
pressions in my own inexact language, without
any attempt to wear a garment of knowledge
to which I have no claim.
The object of Mr. Cavor's search was a
substance that should be ** opaque " — he used
20 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
some other word I have forgotten, but
** opaque " conveys the idea — to " all forms
of radiant energy." " Radiant energy," he
made me understand, was anything like light
or heat, or those Rontgen Rays there was so
much talk about a year or so ago, or the
electric waves of Marconi, or gravitation. All
these things, he said, radiate out from centres,
and act on bodies at a distance, whence comes
the term *' radiant energy." Now almost all
substances are opaque to some form or other
of radiant energy. Glass, for example, is
transparent to light, but much less so to heat,
so that it is useful as a fire-screen ; and alum
is transparent to light, but blocks heat com-
pletely. A solution of iodine in carbon
bisulphide, on the other hand, completely
blocks light, but is quite transparent to heat.
It will hide a fire from you, but permit all
its warmth to reach you. Metals are not
only opaque to light and heat, but also to
electrical energy, which passes through both
iodine solution and glass almost as though they
were not interposed. And so on.
Now all known substances are " transparent"
to gravitation. You can use screens of various
sorts to cut off the light or heat, or electrical
influence of the sun, or the warmth of the earth
MR. BEDFORD MEETS MR. CAVOR 2i
from anything ; you can screen things by sheets
of metal from Marconi's rays, but nothing will
cut off the gravitational attraction of the sun or
the gravitational attraction of the earth. Yet
why there should be nothing is hard to say.
Cavor did not see why such a substance should
not exist, and certainly I could not tell him.
I had never thought of such a possibility
before. He showed me by calculations on
paper, which Lord Kelvin, no doubt, or Pro-
fessor Lodge, or Professor Karl Pearson, or
any of those great scientific people might have
understood, but which simply reduced me to a
hopeless muddle, that not only was such a sub-
stance possible, but that it must satisfy certain
conditions. It was an amazing piece of reason-
ing. Much as it amazed and exercised me at
the time, it would be impossible to reproduce
it here. " Yes," I said to it all, ** yes ; go on ! "
Suffice it for this story that he believed he
might be able to manufacture this possible
substance opaque to gravitation out of a com-
plicated alloy of metals and something new — a
new element, I fancy — called, I believe, helium,
which was sent to him from London in sealed
stone jars. Doubt has been thrown upon this
detail, but I am almost certain it was helium
he had serit him in sealed stone jars. It was
22 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
certainly something very gaseous and thin. If
only I had taken notes. . . .
But then, how was I to foresee the necessity
of taking notes ?
Any one with the merest germ of an ima-
gination will understand the extraordinary
possibilities of such a substance, and will
sympathise a little with the emotion I felt as
this understanding emerged from the haze of
abstruse phrases in which Cavor expressed
himself. Comic relief in a play indeed ! It
was some time before I would believe that I
had interpreted him aright, and I was very
careful not to ask questions that would have
enabled him to gauge the profundity of mis-
understanding into which he dropped his daily
exposition. But no one reading the story of
it here will sympathise fully, because from my
barren narrative it will be impossible to gather
the strength of my conviction that this astonish-
ing substance was positively going to be made.
I do not recall that I gave my play an
hour's consecutive work at any time after my
visit to his house. My imagination had other
things to do. There seemed no limit to the
possibilities of the stuff ; whichever way I tried
I came on miracles and revolutions. For
example, if one wanted to lift a weight, how-
MR, BEDFORD MEETS MR. CAVOR 23
ever enormous, one had only to get a sheet of
this substance beneath it, and one might lift it
with a straw. My first natural impulse was to
apply this principle to guns and ironclads, and
all the material and methods of war, and from
that to shipping, locomotion, building, every
conceivable form of human industry. The
chance that had brought me into the very birth-
chamber of this new time — it was an epoch,
no less — was one of those chances that come
once in a thousand years. The thing unrolled, it
expanded and expanded. Among other things
I saw in it my redemption as a business man.
I saw a parent company, and daughter com-
panies, applications to right of us, applications
to left, rings and trusts, privileges and con-
cessions spreading and spreading, until one
vast, stupendous Cavorite company ran and
ruled the world.
And I was in it !
I took my line straight away. I knew I was
staking everything, but I jumped there and then.
*' We're on absolutely the biggest thing that
has ever been invented," I said, and put the
accent on ** we." "If you want to keep me
out of this, you'll have to do it with a gun.
I'm coming down to be your fourth labourer
24 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
He seemed surprised at my enthusiasm, but
not a bit suspicious or hostile. Rather, he was
He looked at me doubtfully. " But do you
really think — ?" he said. ''And your play!
How about that play ? "
"It's vanished!" I cried. "My dear sir,
don't you see what you've got ? Don't you
see what you're going to do ? "
That was merely a rhetorical turn, but
positively, he didn't. At first I could not be-
lieve it. He had not had the beginning of the
inkling of an idea. This astonishing little
man had been working on purely theoretical
grounds the whole time ! When he said it
was *' the most important " research the world
had ever seen, he simply meant it squared up
so many theories, settled so much that was in
doubt ; he had troubled no more about the
application of the stuff he was 1 going to turn
out than if he- had been a machine that makes
guns. This was a possible substance, and he
was going to make it! Wa tout, as the
Beyond that, he was childish ! If he made
it, it would go down to posterity as Cavorite or
Cavorine, and he would be made an F.R.S.,
and his portrait given away as a scientific
MR, BEDFORD MEETS MR. CAVOR 25
worthy with Nature, and things like that.
And that was all he saw! He would have
dropped this bombshell into the world as
though he had discovered a new species of
gnat, if it had not happened that I had come
along. And there it would have lain and
fizzled, like one or two other little things
these scientific people have lit and dropped
When I realised this, it was I did the
talking, and Cavor who said *'Go on!" I
jumped up. I paced the room, gesticulating
like a boy of twenty. I tried to make him
understand his duties and responsibilities in the
matter — our duties and responsibilities in the
matter. I assured him we might make wealth
enough to work any sort of social revolution
we fancied, we might own and order the whole
world. I told him of companies and patents,
and the case for secret processes. All these
things seemed to take him much as his mathe-
matics had taken me. A look of perplexity
came into his ruddy little face. He stammered
something about indifference to wealth, but I
brushed all that aside. He had got to be rich,
and it was no good his stammering. I gave
him to understand the sort of man I was, and
that I had had very considerable business
26 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
experience. I did not tell him I was an undis-
charged bankrupt at the time, because that
was temporary, but I think I reconciled my
evident poverty with my financial claims. And
quite insensibly, in the way such projects
grow, the understanding of a Cavorite mono-
poly grew up between us. He was to make
the stuff, and I was to make the boom.
I stuck like a leech to the *'we" — "you"
and '' I " didn't exist for me.
His Idea was, that the profits I spoke of
might go to endow research, but that, of course,
was a matter we had to settle later. ** That's
all right," I shouted, ''that's all right." The
great point, as I insisted, was to get the thing
** Here is a substance," I cried, "no home,
no factory, no fortress, no ship can dare to
be without — more universally applicable even
than a patent medicine ! There isn't a solitary
aspect of it, not one of its ten thousand possible
uses that will not make us rich, Cavor, beyond
the dreams of avarice ! "
" No ! " he said. " I begin to see. It's ex-
traordinary how one gets new points of view
by talking over things ! "
** And as it happens you have just talked to
the right man ! "
MR. BEDFORD MEETS MR. CAVOR 27
*' I suppose no one," he said, '' is absolutely
averse to enormous wealth. Of course there is
one thing "
He paused. I stood still.
" It is just possible, you know, that we may
not be able to make it after all ! It may be
one of those things that are a theoretical pos-
sibility, but a practical absurdity. Or when we
make it, there may be some little hitch ! "
" We'll tackle the hitch when it comes,"
THE FIRST MAKING OF CAVORITE
But Cavor's fears were groundless, so far as
the actual making was concerned. On the
14th of October 1899 this incredible substance
was made !
Oddly enough, it was made at last by acci-
dent, when Mr. Cavor least expected it. He
had fused together a number of metals and
certain other things — I wish I knew the par-
ticulars now ! — and he intended to leave the
mixture a week and then allow it to cool slowly.
Unless he had miscalculated, the last stage in
the combination would occur when the stuff
sank to a temperature of 60° Fahr. But it
chanced that, unknown to Cavor, dissension had
arisen about the furnace tending. Gibbs, who
had previously seen to this, had suddenly at-
tempted to shift it to the man who had been a
gardener, on the score that coal was soil, being
dug, and therefore could not possibly fall within
the province of a joiner ; the man who had
THE FIRST MAKING OF CAVORITE 29
been a jobbing gardener alleged, however, that
coal was a metallic or ore-like substance, let
alone that he was cook. But Spargus insisted
on Gibbs doing the coaling, seeing that he was
a joiner and that coal is notoriously fossil wood.
Consequently Gibbs ceased to replenish the
furnace, and no one else did so, and Cavor was
too much immersed in certain interesting prob-
lems concerning a Cavorite flying machine
(neglecting the resistance of the air and one or
two other points) to perceive that anything was
wrong. And the premature birth of his invention
took place just as he was coming across the field
to my bungalo^v for our afternoon talk and tea.
I remember the occasion with extreme vivid-
ness. The water was boiling, and everything
was prepared, and the sound of his "zuzzoo"
had brought me out upon the verandah. His
active little figure was black against the au-
tumnal sunset, and to the right the chimneys of
his house just rose above a gloriously tinted
group of trees. Remoter rose the Wealden
Hills, faint and blue, while to the left the hazy
marsh spread out spacious and serene. And
The chimneys jerked heavenward, smashing
into a string of bricks as they rose, and the
roof and a miscellany of furniture followed.
30 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
Then overtaking them came a huge white
flame. The trees about the building swayed
and whirled and tore themselves to pieces,
that sprang towards the flare. My ears were
smitten with a clap of thunder that left me
deaf on one side for life, and all about me
windows smashed, unheeded.
I took three steps from the verandah towards
Cavor's house, and even as I did so came the
Instantly my coat tails were over my head,
and I was progressing in great leaps and bounds,
and quite against my will, towards him. In the
same moment the discoverer was seized, whirled
about, and flew through the screaming air. I
saw one of my chimney pots hit the ground
within six yards of me, leap a score of feet, and
so hurry in great strides towards the focus of
the disturbance. Cavor, kicking and flapping,
came down again, rolled over and over on the
ground for a space, struggled up and was lifted
and borne forward at an enormous velocity,
vanishing at last among the labouring, lashing
trees that writhed about his house.
A mass of smoke and ashes, and a square of
bluish shining substance rushed up towards the
zenith. A large fragment of fencing came sail-
irfg past me, dropped edgeways, hit the ground
THE FIRST MAKING OF CAVORITE 31
and fell flat, and then the worst was over. The
aerial commotion fell swiftly until it was a mere
strong gale, and I became once more aware that
I had breath and feet. By leaning back against
the wind I managed to stop, and could collect
such wits as still remained to me.
In that instant the whole face of the world
had changed. The tranquil sunset had van-
ished, the sky was dark with scurrying clouds,
everything was flattened and swaying with the
gale. I glanced back to see if my bungalow
was still in a general way standing, then stag-
gered forward towards the trees amongst which
Cavor had vanished, and through whose tall
and leaf-denuded branches shone the flames of
his burning house.
I entered the copse, dashing from one tree
to another and clinging to them, and for a
space I sought him in vain. Then amidst a
heap of smashed branches and fencing that
had banked itself against a portion of his
garden wall I perceived something stir. I
made a run for this, but before I reached it
a brown object separated itself, rose on two
muddy legs and protruded two drooping, bleed-
ing hands. Some tattered ends of garment
fluttered out from its middle portion and
streamed before the wind.
32 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
For a moment I did not recognise this earthy
lump, and then I saw that it was Cavor, caked
in the mud in which he had rolled. He leant
forward against the wind, rubbing the dirt from
his eyes and mouth.
He extended a muddy lump of hand, and
staggered a pace towards me. His face worked
with emotion, little lumps of mud kept falling
from it. He looked as damaged and pitiful
as any living creature I have ever seen, and
his remark therefore amazed me exceeding.
** Gratulate me," he gasped ; *' gratulate me ! "
** Congratulate you ! " said I. " Good
heavens ! What for ? "
^Tve done it."
"You /lave. What on earth caused that
explosion ? "
A gust of wind blew his words away. I
understood him to say that it wasn't an explo-
sion at all. The wind hurled me into colli-
sion with him, and we stood clinging to one
" Try and get back to my bungalow," I
bawled in his ear. He did not hear me,,
and shouted something about ''three martyrs
— science," and also something about "not|
much good." At the time he laboured undei
the impression that his three attendants hac
THE FIRST MAKING OF CAVORITE 33
perished in the whirlwind. Happily this was
incorrect. Directly he had left for my bunga-
low they had gone off to the public-house in
Lympne to discuss the question of the furnaces
over some trivial refreshment.
I repeated my suggestion of getting back to
my bungalow, and this time he understood.
We clung arm-in-arm and started, and man-
aged at last to reach the shelter of as much
roof as was left to me. For a space we sat in
arm-chairs and panted. All the windows were
broken, and the lighter articles of furniture
were in great disorder, but no irrevocable
damage was done. Happily the kitchen door
had stood the pressure upon it, so that all my
crockery and cooking materials had survived.
The oil stove was still burning, and I put on
the water to boil again for tea. And that pre-
pared, I could turn on Cavor for his explanation.
** Quite correct," he insisted ; ** quite correct.
I've done it, and it's all right."
**But," I protested. '* All right! Why,
there can't be a rick , standing, or a fence or
a thatched roof undamaged for twenty miles
round. . . ."
"It's all right — really, I didn't, of course,
foresee this little upset. My mind was pre-
occupied with another problem, and I'm apt
34 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
to disregard these practical side issues. But
it's all right " '
*' My dear sir," I cried, " don't you see youVe
done thousands of pounds* worth of damage ? "
** There, I throw myself on your discretion.
I'm not a practical man, of course, but don't
you think they will regard it as a cyclone ? "
'* But the explosion "
"It was no^ an explosion. It's perfectly
simple. Only, as I say, I'm apt to overlook
these little things. It's that zuzzoo business
on a larger scale. Inadvertently I made this
substance of mine, this Cavorite, in a thin,
wide sheet. ..."
He paused. " You are quite clear that the
stuff is opaque to gravitation, that it cuts off
things from gravitating towards each other ? "
" Yes," said I. " Yes."
" Well, so soon as it reached a temperature
of 60** Fahr. and the process of its manufac-
ture was complete, the air above it, the portions
of roof and ceiling and floor above it ceased to
have weight. I suppose you know — everybody
knows nowadays — that, as a usual thing, the
air Aas weight, that it presses on everything
at the surface of the earth, presses in all direc-
tions, with a pressure of fourteen and a half
pounds to the square inch ? "
THE FIRST MAKING OF CAVORITE 35
" I know that," said I. "Go on."
'' I know that too," he remarked. " Only
this shows you how useless knowledge is un-
less you apply it. You see, over our Cavorite
this ceased to be the case, the air there ceased
to exert any pressure, and the air round it and
not over the Cavorite was exerting a pressure
of fourteen pounds and a half to the square
inch upon this suddenly weightless air. Ah!
you begin to see ! The air all about the
Cavorite crushed in upon the air above it with
irresistible force. The air above the Cavorite
was forced upward violently, the air that rushed
in to replace it immediately lost weight, ceased
to exert any pressure, followed suit, blew the
ceiling through and the roof off. . . .
"You perceive," he said, **it formed a sort
of atmospheric fountain, a kind of chimney in
the atmosphere. And if the Cavorite itself
hadn't been loose and so got sucked up the
chimney, does it occur to you what would have
happened ? "
I thought. ** I suppose," I said, ** the air
would be rushing up and up over that infernal
piece of stuff now."
" Precisely," he said. " A huge foun-
** Spouting into space I Good heavens !
36 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
Why, it would have squirted all the atmosphere
of the earth away ! It would have robbed the
world of air ! It would have been the death of
all mankind ! That little lump of stuff! "
** Not exactly into space," said Cavor, " but
as bad — ^practically. It would have whipped
the air off the world as one peels a banana,
and flung it thousands of miles. It would
have dropped back again, of course — but on
an asphyxiated world ! From our point of
view very little better than if it never came
back ! "
I stared. As yet I was too amazed to
realise how all my expectations had been
upset. " What do you mean to do now ? " I
"In the first place, if I may borrow a garden
trowel I will remove some of this earth with
which I am encased, and then if I may avail
myself of your domestic conveniences I will
have a bath. This done, we will converse
more at leisure. It will be wise, I think" —
he laid a muddy hand on my arm — " if nothing
were said of this affair beyond ourselves. I
know I have caused' great damage — probably
even dwelling-houses may be ruined here and
there upon the country-side. But on the
other hand, I cannot possibly pay for the
THE FIRST MAKING OF CAVORITE 37
damage I have done, and if the real cause
of this is published, it will lead only to heart-
burning and the obstruction of my work. One
cannot foresee everything, you know, and I
cannot consent for one moment to add the
burthen of practical considerations to my
theorising. Later on, when you have come
in with your practical mind, and Cavorite is
floated — floated is the word, isn't it? — and it
has realised all you anticipate for it, we may
set matters right with these persons. But not
now — not now. If no other explanation is
offered, people, in the present unsatisfactory
state of meteorological science, will ascribe all
this to a cyclone ; there might be a public sub-
scription, and as my house has collapsed and
been burnt, I should in that case receive a
considerable share in the compensation, which
would be extremely helpful to the prosecution
of our researches. But if it is known that /
caused this, there will be no public subscrip-
tion, and everybody will be put out. Practi-
cally I should never get a chance of working
in peace again. My three assistants may or
may not have perished. That is a detail.
If they have, it is no great loss ; they were
more zealous than able, and this premature
event must be largely due to their joint
38 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
neglect of the furnace. If they have not
perished, I doubt if they have the intelligence
to explain the affair. They will accept the
cyclone story. And if, during the temporary
unfitness of my house for occupation, I may
lodge in one of the untenanted rooms of this
bungalow of yours "
He paused and regarded me,
A man of such possibilities, I reflected, is no
ordinary guest to entertain.
** Perhaps," said I, rising to my feet, ** we
had better begin by looking for a trowel,"
and I led the way to the scattered vestiges of
And while he was having his bath I con-
sidered the entire question alone. It was
clear there were drawbacks to Mr. Cavor's
society I had not foreseen. The absent-
mindedness that had just escaped depopulating
the terrestrial globe, might at any moment
result in some other grave inconvenience. On
the other hand I was young, my affairs were
in a mess, and I was in just the mood for
reckless adventure — with a chance of some-
thing good at the end of it. I had quite
settled in my mind that I was to have half at
least in that aspect of the affair. Fortunately
I held my bungalow, as I have already ex^
THE FIRST MAKING OF CAVORITE 39
plained, on a three-year agreement, without
being responsible for repairs ; and my furniture,
such as there was of it, had been hastily pur-
chased, was unpaid for, insured, and altogether
devoid of associations. In the end I decided
to keep on with him, and see the business
Certainly the aspect of things had changed
very greatly. I no longer doubted at all the
enormous possibilities of the substance, but
I began to have doubts about the gun-carriage
and the patent boots.
We set to work at once to reconstruct his
laboratory and proceed with our experiments.
Cavor talked more on my level than he had
ever done before, when it came to the question
of how we should make the stuff next.
" Of course we must make it again," he
said, with a sort of glee I had not expected in
him, " of course we must make it again. We
have caught a Tartar, perhaps, but we have
left the theoretical behind us for good and all.
If we can possibly avoid wrecking this little
planet of ours, we will. But — there musi be
risks ! There must be. In experimental work
there always are. And here, as a practical
man, ^ou must come in. For my own part
it seems to me we might make it edgeways,
40 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
perhaps, and very thin. Yet I don't know. I
have a certain dim perception of another
method. I can hardly explain it yet. But
curiously enough it came into my mind, while
I was rolling over and over in the mud before
the wind, and very doubtful how the whole
adventure was to end, as being absolutely the
thing I ought to have done."
Even with my aid we found some little
difficulty, and meanwhile we kept at work
restoring the laboratory. There was plenty
to do before it was absolutely necessary to
decide upon the precise form and method of
our second attempt. Our only hitch was the
strike of the three labourers, who objected to
my activity as a foreman. But that matter
we compromised after two days' delay.
THE BUILDING OF THE SPHERE
I REMEMBER the occasion very distinctly when
Cavor told me of his idea of the sphere. He
had had intimations of it before, but at the
time it seemed to come to him in a rush. We
were returning to the bungalow for tea, and
on the way he fell humming. Suddenly he
shouted, ** That's it ! That finishes it ! A
sort of roller blind ! "
" Finishes what ? " I asked.
'* Space — anywhere ! The moon ! "
" What do you mean ? "
** Mean ? Why — it must be a sphere !
That's what I mean ! "
I saw I was out of it, and for a time I let
him talk in his own fashion. I hadn't the
ghost of an idea then of his drift. But after
he had taken tea he made it clear to me.
" It's like this," he said. " Last time I ran
this stuff that cuts things off from gravitation
into a flat tank with an overlap that held it
42 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
down. And directly it had cooled and the
manufacture was completed all that uproar
happened, nothing above it weighed anything,
the air went squirting up, the house squirted
up, and if the stuff itself hadn't squirted up
too, I don't know what would have happened !
But suppose the substance is loose, and quite
free to go up ? "
" It will go up at once ! "
** Exactly. With no more disturbance than
firing a big gun."
" But what good will that do.^*"
" Vm going up with it ! "
I put down my teacup and stared at him.
** Imagine a sphere," he explained, ''large
enough to hold two people and their luggage.
It will be made of steel lined with thick glass ;
it will contain a proper store of solidified air,
concentrated food, water-distilling apparatus,
and so forth. And enamelled, as it were, on
the outer steel -"
'* Cavorite ? "
"But how will you get inside ? "
** There was a similar problem about a
" Yes, I know. But how ? "
" That's perfectly easy. An air-tight man-
THE BUILDING OF THE SPHERE 43
hole is all that is needed. That, of course,
will have to be a little complicated ; there
will have to be a valve, so that things may be
thrown out, if necessary, without much loss
** Like Jules Verne's thing in * A Trip to the
Moon ' ? "
But Cavor was not a reader of fiction.
" I begin to see," I said slowly. ^' And you
could get in and screw yourself up while the
Cavorite was warm, and as soon as it cooled it
would become impervious to gravitation, and
off you would fly "
" At a tangent."
" You would go off in a straight line — " I
stopped abruptly. " What is to prevent the
thing travelling in a straight line into space
for ever ? " I asked. ** You're not safe to
get anywhere, and if you do — how will you
get back ? "
"I've just thought of that," said Cavor.
"That's what I meant when I said the thing
is finished. The inner glass sphere can be
air-tight and, except for the manhole, con-
tinuous, and the steel sphere can be made in
sections, each section capable of rolling up
after the fashion of a roller blind. These
can easily be worked by springs, and released
44 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
and checked by electricity conveyed by plati-
num wires fused through the glass. All that
is merely a question of detail. So you see,
that except for the thickness of the blind
rollers, the Cavorite exterior of the sphere
will consist of windows or blinds, whichever
you like to call them. Well, when all these
windows or blinds are shut, no light, no heat,
no gravitation, no radiant energy of any sort
will get at the inside of the sphere, it will fly
on through space in a straight line, as you say.
But open a window, imagine one of the win-
dows open ! Then at once any heavy body
that chances to be in that direction will attract
I sat taking it in.
" You see ? " he said.
" Oh, I seer
** Practically we shall be able to tack about
in space just as we wish. Get attracted by
this and that."
" Oh yes. Thafs clear enough. Only "
" Well ? "
" I don't quite see what we shall do it for !
It's really only jumping off the world and back
"Surely! For example, one might go to
THE BUILDING OF THE SPHERE 45
** And when one got there ! What would
you find ? "
**We should see — Oh! consider the new
"Is there air there ? "
" There may be."
" It's a fine idea," I said, ** but it strikes me
as a large order all the same. The moon ! I'd
much rather try some smaller things first."
" They're out of the question, because of
the air difficulty."
** Why not apply that idea of spring blinds
— Cavorite blinds in strong steel cases — to
lifting weights ? "
" It wouldn't work," he insisted. ** After all,
to go into outer space is not so much worse, if
at all, than a polar expedition. Men go on
" Not business men. And besides, they get
paid for polar expeditions. And if anything
goes wrong there are relief parties. But this
— it's just firing ourselves off the world for
" Call it prospecting."
** You'll have to call it that. . . . One
might make a book of it perhaps," I said.
" I have no doubt there will be minerals,"
46 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
" For example ? "
** Oh ! sulphur, ores, gold perhaps, possibly
"Cost of carriage," I said. "You know
you're no^ a practical man. The moon's a
quarter of a million miles away."
"It seems to me it wouldn't cost much
to cart any weight anywhere if you packed
it in a Cavorite case."
I had not thought of that. " Delivered
free on head of purchaser, eh ? "
"It isn't as though we were confined to the
" You mean-
" There's Mars — clear atmosphere, novel
surroundings, exhilarating sense of lightness.
It might be pleasant to go there."
"Is there air on Mars ?"
" Oh yes ! "
" Seems as though you might run it as a
sanatorium. By the way, how far is Mars ? "
"Two hundred million miles at present,"
said Cavor airily; "and you go close by the
My imagination was picking itself up again.
** After all," I said, " there's something in
these things. There's travel "
An extraordinary possibility came rushing
THE BUILDING OF THE SPHERE 47
into my mind. Suddenly I saw, as in a vision,
the whole solar system threaded with Cavorite
liners and spheres de luxe, *' Rights of pre-
emption," came floating into my head — planet-
ary rights of pre-emption. I recalled the old
Spanish monopoly in American gold. It
wasn't as though it was just this planet or
that — it was all of them. I stared at Cavor's
rubicund face, and suddenly my imagination
was leaping and dancing. I stood up, I
walked up and down ; my tongue was un-
"I'm beginning to take it in," I said ; ** Tm
beginning to take it in." The transition from
doubt to enthusiasm seemed to take scarcely
any time at all. " But this is tremendous ! "
I cried. ** This is Imperial ! I haven't been
dreaming of this sort of thing,"
Once the chill of my opposition was removed,
his own pent-up excitement had play. He too
got up and paced. He too gesticulated and
shouted. We behaved like men inspired. We
were men inspired.
"We'll settle all that!" he said in answer
to some incidental difficulty that had pulled me
up. " We'll soon settle all that ! We'll start
the drawings for mouldings this very night."
" We'll start them now," I responded, and
48 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
we hurried off to the laboratory to begin upon
this work forthwith.
I was like a child in Wonderland all that
night. The dawn found us both still at work
— we kept our electric light going heedless
of the day. I remember now exactly how
those drawings looked. I shaded and tinted,
while Cavor drew — smudged and haste-marked
they were in every line, but wonderfully correct.
We got out the orders for the steel blinds and
frames we needed from that night's work, and
the glass sphere was designed within a week.
We gave up our afternoon conversations and
our old routine altogether. We worked, and
we slept and ate when we could work no
longer for hunger and fatigue. Our enthusiasm
infected even our three men, though they had
no idea what the sphere was for. Through
those days the man Gibbs gave up walking,
and went everywhere, even across the room,
at a sort of fussy run.
And it grew — the sphere. December
passed, January — I spent a day with a broom
sweeping a path through the snow from
bungalow to laboratory — February, March.
By the end of March the completion was inf
sight. In January had come a team of horses,]
a huge packing-case ; we had our thick glass
THE BUILDING OF THE SPHERE 49
Sphere now ready, and in position under the
crane we had rigged to sling it into the steel
shell. All the bars and blinds of the steel
shell — it was not really a spherical shell, but
polyhedral, with a roller blind to each facet
— had arrived by February, and the lower
half was bolted together. The Cavorite was
half made by March, the metallic paste had
gone through two of the stages in its manu-
facture, and we had plastered quite half of it
on to the steel bars and blinds. It was
astonishing how closely we kept to the lines
of Cavor's first inspiration in working out
the scheme. When the bolting together of
the sphere was finished, he proposed to remove
the rough roof of the temporary laboratory in
which the work was done, and build a fur-
nace about it. So the last stage of Cavorite
making, in which the paste is heated to a
dull red glow in a stream of helium, would
be accomplished when it was already on the
And then we had to discuss and decide
what provisions we were to take — compressed
foods, concentrated essences, steel cylinders
containing reserve oxygen, an arrangement
for removing carbonic acid and waste from
the air and restoring oxygen by means of
50 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
sodium peroxide, water condensers, and so
forth. I remember the little heap they made
in the corner — tins, and rolls, and boxes— con-
It was a strenuous time, with little chance
of thinking. But one day, when we were
drawing near the end, an odd mood came
over me. I had been bricking up the furnace
all the morning, and I sat down by these
possessions dead beat. Everything seemed
dull and incredible.
'^ But look here, Cavor," I said. " After
all! What's it all for?"
He smiled. ** The thing now is to go."
**The moon," I reflected. *' But what do
you expect? I thought the moon was a
He shrugged his shoulders.
** What do you expect ? "
" We're going to see."
*' Are we ? " I said, and stared before me.
" You are tired," he remarked. " You'd
better take a walk this afternoon."
"No," I said obstinately ; "I'm going to
finish this brickwork."
And I did, and insured myself a night of
I don't think I have ever had such a night.
THE BUILDING OF THE SPHERE 51
I had some bad times before my business col-
lapse, but the very worst of those was sweet
slumber compared to this infinity of aching
wakefulness. I was suddenly in the most enor-
mous funk at the thing we were going to do.
I do not remember before that night think-
ing at all of the risks we were running. Now
they came like that array of spectres that once
beleaguered Prague, and camped around me.
The strangeness of what we were about to
do, the unearthliness of it, overwhelmed me.
I was like a man awakened out of pleasant
dreams to the most horrible surroundings.
I lay, eyes wide open, and the sphere seemed
to get more flimsy and feeble, and Cavor more
unreal and fantastic, and the whole enterprise
madder and madder every moment.
I got out of bed and wandered about. I
sat at the window and stared at the immensity
of space. Between the stars was the void,
the unfathomable darkness ! I tried to re-
call the fragmentary knowledge of astronomy I
had gained in my irregular reading, but it was
all too vague to furnish any idea of the things
we might expect. At last I got back to bed
and snatched some moments of sleep — moments
of nightmare rather — in which I fell and fell and
fell for evermore into the abyss of the sky.
52 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
I astonished Cavor at breakfast. I told
him shortly, " I'm not coming with you in
I met all his protests with a sullen per-
sistence. " The thing's too mad," I said,
** and I won't come. The thing's too mad."
I would not go with him to the laboratory.
I fretted about my bungalow for a time, and
then took hat and stick and set off alone, I
knew not whither. It chanced to be a glorious
morning : a warm wind and deep blue sky,
the first green of spring abroad, and multi-
tudes of birds singing. I lunched on beef
and beer in a little public-house near Elham,
and startled the landlord by remarking apropos
of the weather, '* A man who leaves the world
when days of this sort are about is a fool ! "
** That's what I says when I heerd on it ! '*
said the landlord, and I found that for one
poor soul at least this world had proved ex-
cessive, and there had been a throat-cutting.
I went on with a new twist to my thoughts.
In the afternoon I had a pleasant sleep in
a sunny place, and went my way refreshed.
I came to a comfortable-looking inn near
Canterbury. It was bright with creepers, and
the landlady was a clean old woman and took
my eye. I found I had just enough money
THE BUILDING OF THE SPHERE 53
to pay for my lodging with her. I decided
to stop the night there. She was a talka-
tive body, and among many other particulars
I learnt she had never been to London.
** Canterbury's as far as ever I been," she
said. " I'm not one of your gad-about sort."
** How would you like a trip to the moon ? "
" I never did hold with them ballooneys,"
she said, evidently under the impression that
this was a common excursion enough. ** I
wouldn't go up in one — not for ever so."
This struck me as being funny. After I
had supped I sat on a bench by the door of
the inn and gossiped with two labourers about
brick-making, and motor cars, and the cricket
of last year. And in the sky a faint new
crescent, blue and vague as a distant Alp,
sank westward over the sun.
The next day I returned to Cavor. ** I am
coming," I said. " I've been a little out of
order, that's all."
That was the only time I felt any serious
doubt of our enterprise. Nerves purely !
After that I worked a little more carefully,
and took a trudge for an hour every day.
And at last, save for the heating in the fur-
nace, our labours were at an end.
INSIDE THE SPHERE
" Go on," said Cavor, as I sat across the edge
of the manhole and looked down into the
black interior of the sphere. We two were
alone. It was evening, the sun had set, and
the stillness of the twilight was upon every-
I drew my other leg inside and slid down
the smooth glass to the bottom of the sphere,
then turned to take the cans of food and
other impedimenta from Cavor. The interior
was warm, the thermometer stood at eighty,
and as we should lose little or none of this
by radiation, we were dressed in shoes and
thin flannels. We had, however, a bundle
of thick woollen clothing and several thick
blankets to guard against mischance. By
Cavor s direction I placed the packages, the
cylinders of oxygen, and so forth, loosely about
my feet, and soon we had everything in. He
walked about the roofless shed for a time
" I sat across the edge of the manhole and looked down into the
black interior "
INSIDE THE SPHERE 55
seeking anything we had overlooked, and
then crawled in after me. I noted something
in his hand.
" What have you got there ? " I asked.
** Haven't you brought anything to read ? "
" Good Lord ! No."
** I forgot to tell you. There are uncer-
tainties — The voyage may last — We
may be weeks ! "
** We shall be floating in this sphere with
absolutely no occupation."
" I wish I'd known "
He peered out of the manhole. '* Look ! "
he said. '* There's something there ! "
" Is there time ? "
** We shall be an hour."
I looked out. It was an old number of Ti^-
Bits that one of the men must have brought.
Further away in the corner I saw a torn
Lloyds News, I scrambled back into the
sphere with these things. " What have you
got?'' I said.
I took the book from his hand and read,
** The Works of William Shakespeare."
He coloured slightly. *' My education has
been so purely scientific — " he said apolo-
56 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
** Never read him ? "
** He knew a little you know — in an irre-
gular sort of way."
** Precisely what I am told," said Cavor.
I assisted him to screw in the glass cover of
the manhole, and then he pressed a stud to
close the corresponding blind in the outer case.
The little oblong of twilight vanished. We
were in darkness.
For a time neither of us spoke. Although
our case would not be impervious to sound,
everything was very still. I perceived there
was nothing to grip when the shock of our
start should come, and I realised that I should
be uncomfortable for want of a chair.
" Why have we no chairs .'^ " I asked.
''I've settled all that," said Cavor. "We
shan't need them."
" Why not ? "
"You vnll see," he said, in the tone of a
man who refuses to talk.
I became silent. Suddenly it had come to
me clear and vivid that I was a fool to be
inside that sphere. Even now, I asked myself,
is it too late to withdraw ? The world outside
the sphere, I knew, would be cold and inhospit-
able enough to me — for weeks I had been
INSIDE THE SPHERE 57
living on subsidies from Cavor — but after all,
would it be as cold as the infinite zero, as in-
hospitable as empty space ? If it had not been
for the appearance of cowardice, I believe that
even then I should have made him let me out.
But I hesitated on that score, and hesitated,
and grew fretful and angry, and the time passed.
There came a little jerk, a noise like cham-
pagne being uncorked in another room, and a
faint whistling sound. For just one instant I
had a sense of enormous tension, a transient
conviction that my feet were pressing down-
ward with a force of countless tons. It lasted
for an infinitesimal time.
But it stirred me to action. ** Cavor!" I
said into the darkness, " my nerve's in rags.
... I don't think "
I stopped. He made no answer.
** Confound it ! " I cried ; *' I'm a fool ! What
business have I here ? I'm not coming, Cavor.
The thing's too risky. I'm getting out."
** You can't," he said.
" Can't ! We'll soon see about that ! "
He made no answer for ten seconds. ** It's
too late for us to quarrel now, Bedford," he
said. ** That little jerk was the start. Already
we are flying as swiftly as a bullet up into the
gulf of space."
58 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
'* I — " I said, and then it didn't seem to
matter what happened. For a time I was, as
it were, stunned ; I had nothing to say. It
was just as if I had never heard of this idea
of leaving the world before. Then I per-
ceived an unaccountable change in my bodily
sensations. It was a feeling of lightness, of
unreality. Coupled with that was a queer sen-
sation in the head, an apoplectic effect almost,
and a thumping of blood-vessels at the ears.
Neither of these feelings diminished as time
went on, but at last I got so used to them that
I experienced no inconvenience.
I heard a click, and a little glow lamp came
I saw Cavor's face, as white as I felt my
own to be. We regarded one another in
silence. The transparent blackness of the
glass behind him made him seerii as though
he floated in a void.
** Well, we're committed," I said at last.
"Yes," he said, ** we're committed."
" Don't move," he exclaimed, at som.e
suggestion of a gesture. ** Let your muscles
keep quite lax — as if you were in bed. We
are in a little universe of our own. Look at
those things ! "
He pointed to the loose cases and bundles
INSIDE THE SPHERE 59
that had been lying on the blankets in the
bottom of the sphere. I was astonished to see
that they were floating now nearly a foot from
the spherical wall. Then I saw from his
shadow that Cavor was no longer leaning
against the glass. I thrust out my hand
behind me, and found that I too was sus-
pended in space, clear of the glass.
I did not cry out nor gesticulate, but fear
came upon me. It was like being held and
lifted by something — you know not what. The
mere touch of my hand against the glass moved
me rapidly. I understood what had happened,
but that did not prevent my being afraid. We
were cut off from all exterior gravitation, only
the attraction of objects within our sphere had
effect. Consequently everything that was not
fixed to the glass was falling — slowly because
of the slightness of our masses — towards the
centre of gravity of our little world, which
seemed to be somewhere about the middle of
the sphere, but rather nearer to myself than
Cavor, on account of my greater weight.
'*We must turn round," said Cavor, "and
float back to back, with the things between
It was the strangest sensation conceivable,
floating thus loosely in space, at first indeed
6o THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
horribly strange, and when the horror passed,
not disagreeable at all, exceeding restful ;
indeed, the nearest thing in earthly experience
to it that I know is lying on a very thick, soft
feather bed. But the quality of utter detach-
ment and independence ! I had not reckoned
on things like this. I had expected a violent
jerk at starting, a giddy sense of speed. In-
stead I felt — as if I were disembodied. It was
not like the beginning of a journey ; it was like
the beginning of a dream.
THE JOURNEY TO THE MOON
Presently Cavor extinguished the light. He
said we had not overmuch energy stored, and
that what we had we must economise for read-
ing. For a time, whether it was long or short
I do not know, there was nothing but blank
A question floated up out of the void.
** How are we pointing?" I said. '* What is
our direction ? "
"We are flying away from the earth at a
tangent, and as the moon is near her third
quarter we are going somewhere towards her.
I will open a blind "
Came a click, and then a window in the
outer case yawned open. The sky outside
was as black as the darkness within the sphere,
but the shape of the open window was marked
by an infinite number of stars.
Those who have only seen the starry sky
from the earth cannot imagine its appearance
62 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
when the vague half-luminous veil of our air has
been withdrawn. The stars we see on earth are
the mere scattered survivors that penetrate our
misty atmosphere. But now at last I could
realise the meaning of the hosts of heaven !
Stranger things we were presently to see,
but that airless, star-dusted sky ! Of all things,
I think that will be one of the last I shall forget.
The litde window vanished with a click,
another beside it snapped open and instantly
closed, and then a third, and for a moment I
had to close my eyes because of the blinding
splendour of the waning moon.
For a space I had to stare at Cavor and the
white-lit things about me to season my eyes to
light again, before I could turn them towards
that pallid glare.
Four windows were open in order that the
gravitation of the moon might act upon all
the substances in our sphere. I found I was
no longer floating freely in space, but that my
feet were resting on the glass in the direction
of the moon. The blankets and cases of pro-
visions were also creeping slowly down the
glass, and presendy came to rest so as to block
out a portion of the view. It seemed to me, of
course, that I looked '' down " when I looked
at the moon. On earth *'down" means earth-
THE JOURNEY TO THE MOON 6^
ward, the way things fall, and ** up " the reverse
direction. Now the pull of gravitation was
towards the moon, and for all I knew to the
contrary our earth was overhead. And, of
course, when all the Cavorite blinds were
closed, **down" was towards the centre of our
sphere, and **up" towards its outer wall.
It was curiously unlike earthly experience,
too, to have the light coming up to one. On
earth light falls from above, or comes slant-
ing down sideways, but here it came from be-
neath our feet, and to see our shadows we
had to look up.
At first it gave me a sort of vertigo to
stand only on thick glass and look down upon
the moon through hundreds of thousands of
miles of vacant space ; but this sickness passed
very speedily. And then — the splendour of the
The reader may imagine it best if he will
lie on the ground some warm summer's night
and look between his upraised feet at the
moon, but for some reason, probably because
the absence of air made it so much more
luminous, the moon seemed already consider-
ably larger than it does from earth. The
minutest details of its surface were acutely
clear. And since we did not see it through
64 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
air, its outline was bright and sharp, there was
no glow or halo about it, and the star-dust
that covered the sky came right to its very-
margin, and marked the outline of its un-
illuminated part. And as I stood and stared
at the moon between my feet, that perception
of the impossible that had been with me off
and on ever since our start, returned again
with tenfold conviction.
*'Cavor," I said, "this takes me queerly.
Those companies we were going to run, and
all that about minerals?"
" I don't see em here."
*' No," said Cavor ; " but you'll get over all
*' I suppose I'm made to turn right side up
again. Still, ^kis — For a moment I could
half believe there never was a world."
** That copy of Lloyds News might help you."
I stared at the paper for a moment, then
held it above the level of my face, and found
I could read it quite easily. I struck a column
of mean little advertisements. " A gentleman
of private means is willing to lend money," I
read. I knew that gentleman. Then some-
body eccentric wanted to sell a Cutaway bicycle,
** quite new and cost ;^is/' for five pounds;
THE JOURNEY TO THE MOON 65
and a lady in distress wished to dispose of some
fish knives and forks, " a wedding present," at
a great sacrifice. No doubt some simple soul
was sagely examining these knives and forks,
and another triumphantly riding off on that
bicycle, and a third trustfully consulting that
benevolent gentleman of means even as I read.
I laughed, and let the paper drift from my hand.
" Are we visible from the earth ? " I asked.
" Why ? "
" I knew some one who was rather interested
in astronomy. It occurred to me that it would
be rather odd if — my friend — chanced to be
looking through some telescope."
*' It would need the most powerful telescope
on earth even now to see us as the minutest
For a time I stared in silence at the moon.
" It's a world," I said ; *' one feels that
infinitely more than one ever did on earth.
People perhaps "
"People!" he exclaimed. '' No I Banish
all that ! Think yourself a sort of ultra-arctic
voyager exploring the desolate places of space.
Look at it ! "
He waved his hand at the shining whiteness
below. '' It's dead — dead ! Vast extinct
volcanoes, lava wildernesses, tumbled wastes
66 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
of snow, or frozen carbonic acid, or frozen air,
and everywhere landslip seams and cracks and
gulfs. Nothing happens. Men have watched
this planet systematically with telescopes for
over two hundred years. How much change
do you think they have seen ? "
** They have traced two indisputable land-
slips, a doubtful crack, and one slight periodic
change of colour, and that's all."
" I didn't know they'd traced even that."
" Oh yes. But as for people ! "
** By the way," I asked, *' how small a thing
will the biggest telescopes show upon the
moon ? "
** One could see a fair-sized church. One
could certainly see any towns or buildings, or
anything like the handiwork of men. There
might perhaps be insects, something in the
way of ants, for example, so that they could
hide in deep burrows from the lunar night, or
some new sort of creatures having no earthly
parallel. That is the most probable thing, if
we are to find life there at all. Think of the
difference in conditions ! Life must fit itself
to a day as long as fourteen earthly days, a
cloudless sun-blaze of fourteen days, and then
a night of equal length, growing ever colder
THF. JOURNEY TO THE MOON 67
and colder under these cold, sharp stars. In
that night there must be cold, the ultimate
cold, absolute zero, 273° C. below the earthly-
freezing point. Whatever life there is must
hibernate through thaty and rise again each
He mused. ** One can imagine something
worm-like," he said, ** taking its air solid as
an earth-worm swallows earth, or thick-skinned
" By-the-bye," I said, " why didn't we bring
a gun ? "
He did not answer that question. ** No,"
he concluded, " we just have to go. We shall
see when we get there."
I remembered something. • " Of course,
there's my minerals, anyhow," I said ; ** what-
ever the conditions may be."
Presently he told me he wished to alter our
course a little by letting the earth tug at us for
a moment. He was going to open one earth-
ward blind for thirty seconds. He warned me
that it would make my head swim, and advised
me to extend my hands against the glass to
break my fall. I did as he directed, and thrust
my feet against the bales of food cases and air
cylinders Jo prevent their falling upon me.
Then with a click the window flew open. I fell
6S THE FIRST MEN IN THE J^ OON
clumsily upon hands and face, and saw for a
moment between my black extended fingers
our mother earth — a planet in a downward sky.
We were still very near — Cavor told me the
distance was perhaps eight hundred miles — and
the huge terrestrial disk filled all heaven. But
already it was plain to see that the world was a
globe. The land below us was in twilight and
vague, but westward the vast grey stretches of
the Atlantic shone like molten silver under the
receding day. I think I recognised the cloud-
dimmed coast-lines of France and Spain and
the south of England, and then, with a click,
the shutter closed again, and I found myself in
a state of extraordinary confusion sliding slowly
over the smooth glass.
When at last things settled themselves in my
mind again, it seemed quite beyond question
that the moon was '' down " and under my feet,
and that the earth was somewhere away on the
level of the horizon — the earth that had been
" down " to me and my kindred since the
beginning of things.
So slight were the exertions required of us,
so easy did the practical annihilation of our
weight make all we had to do, that the necessity
for taking refreshment did not occur to us for
nearly six hours (by Cavor's chronometer) after
THE yOURNEY TO THE MOON 69
our start. I was amazed at that lapse of -time.
Even then I was satisfied with very little.
Cavor examined the apparatus for absorbing
carbonic acid and water, and pronounced it to
be in satisfactory order, our consumption of
oxygen having been extraordinarily slight. And
our talk being exhausted for the time, and
there being nothing further for us to do, we
gave way to a curious drowsiness that had
come upon us, and spreading our blankets on
the bottom of the sphere in such a manner as
to shut out most of the moonlight, wished each
other good-night, and almost immediately fell
And so, sleeping, and sometimes talking and
reading a little, and at times eating, although
without any keenness of appetite,^ but for the
most part in a sort of quiescence that was
neither waking nor slumber, we fell through a
space of time that had neither night nor day in
it, silently, softly, and swiftly down towards the
^ It is a curious thing, that while we were in the sphere we
felt not the slightest desire for food, nor did we feel the want
of it when we abstained. At first we forced our appetites, but
afterwards we fasted completely. Altogether we did not con-
sume one-hundredth part of the compressed provisions we had
brought with us. The amount of carbonic acid we breathed
was also unnaturally low, but why this was so I am quite unable
THE LANDING ON THE MOON
I REMEMBER how One day Cavor suddenly
opened six of our shutters and blinded me so
that I cried aloud at him. The whole area was
moon, a stupendous scimitar of white dawn with
its edge hacked out by notches of darkness, the
crescent shore of an ebbing tide of darkness, out
of which peaks and pinnacles came climbing into
the blaze of the sun. I take it the reader has
seen pictures or photographs of the moon, so
that I need not describe the broader features of
that landscape, those spacious ringlike ranges
vaster than any terrestrial mountains, their sum-
mits shining in the day, their shadows harsh
and deep, the grey disordered plains, the ridges,
hills, and craterlets, all passing at last from a
blazing illumination into a common mystery of
black. Athwart this world we were flying
scarcely a hundred miles above its crests and
pinnacles. And now we could see, what no eye
on earth will ever see, that under the blaze of
THE LANDING ON THE MOON 71
the day the harsh outlines of the rocks and
ravines of the plains and crater floor grew grey
and indistinct under a thickening haze, that the
white of their lit surfaces broke into lumps and
patches, and broke again and shrank and
vanished, and that here and there strange tints
of brown and olive grew and spread.
But little time we had for watching then.
For now we had come to the real danger of our
journey. We had to drop ever closer to the
moon as we spun about it, to slacken our pace
and watch our chance, until at last we could
dare to drop upon its surface.
For Cavor that was a time of intense exer-
tion ; for me it was an anxious inactivity. I
seemed perpetually to be getting out of his way.
He leapt about the sphere from point to point
with an agility that would have been impossible
on earth. He was perpetually opening and
closing the Cavorite windows, making calcula-
tions, consulting his chronometer by means of
the glow lamp during those last eventful hours.
For a long time we had all our windows closed
and hung silently in darkness, hurling through
Then he was feeling for the shutter studs,
and suddenly four windows were open. I
staggered and qovered my eyes, drenched and
72 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
scorched and blinded by the unaccustomed
splendour of the sun beneath my feet. Then
again the shutters snapped, leaving my brain
spinning in a darkness that pressed against the
eyes. And after that I floated in another vast,
Then Cavor switched on the electric light,
and told me he proposed to bind all our luggage
together with the blankets about it, against the
concussion of our descent. We did this with
our windows closed, because in that way our
goods arranged themselves naturally at the
centre of the sphere. That too was a strange
business ; we two men floating loose in that
spherical space, and packing and pulling ropes.
Imagine it if you can ! No up nor down, and
every effort resulting in unexpected movements.
Now I would be pressed against the glass with
the full force of Cavor's thrust, now I would be
kicking helplessly in a void. Now the star of
the electric light would be overhead, now under
foot. Now Cavor's feet would float up before
my eyes, and now we would be crossways to
each other. But at last our goods were safely
bound together in a big soft bale, all except two
blankets with head holes that we were to wrap
Then for a flash Cavor opened a window
THE LANDING ON THE MOON 73
moonward, and we saw that we were dropping
towards a huge central crater with a number of
minor craters grouped in a sort of cross about
it. And then again Cavor flung our little sphere
open to the scorching, blinding sun. I think
he was using the sun's attraction as a brake.
** Cover yourself with a blanket," he cried,
thrusting himself from me, and for a moment I
did not understand.
Then I hauled the blanket from beneath my
feet and got it about me and over my head and
eyes. Abruptly he closed the shutters again,
snapped one open again and closed it, then
suddenly began snapping them all open, each
safely into its steel roller. There came a jar,
and then we were rolling over and over, bump-
ing against the glass and against the big bale
of our luggage, and clutching at each other, and
outside some white substance splashed as if we
were rolling down a slope of snow. . . .
Over, clutch, bump, clutch, bump, over. . . .
Came a thud, and I was half buried under
the bale of our possessions, and for a space
everything was still. Then I could hear Cavor
puffing and grunting, and the snapping of a
shutter in its sash. I made an effort, thrust
back our blanket-wrapped luggage, and emerged
from beneath it. Our open windows were
74 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
just visible as a deeper black set with
We were still alive, and we were lying in the
darkness of the shadow of the wall of the great
crater into which we had fallen.
We sat getting our breath again, and feeling
the bruises on our limbs. I don't think either
of us had had a very clear expectation of such
rough handling as we had received. I struggled
painfully to my feet. ''And now," said I, "to
look at the landscape of the moon ! But — .!
It's tremendously dark, Cavor ! "
The glass was dewy, and as I spoke I wiped
at it with my blanket. *' We're half-an-hour or
so beyond the day," he said. ** We must wait."
It was impossible to distinguish anything.
We might have been in a sphere of steel for
all that we could see. My rubbing with the
blanket simply smeared the glass, and as fast
as I wiped it, it became opaque again with
freshly condensed moisture mixed with an in-
creasing quantity of blanket hairs. Of course
I ought not to have used the blanket. In my
efforts to clear the glass I slipped upon the
damp surface, and hurt my shin against one of
the oxygen cylinders that protruded from our
The thing was exasperating — it was absurd.
THE LANDING ON THE MOON 75
Here we were just arrived upon the moon,
amidst we knew not what wonders, and all
we could see was the grey and streaming
wall of the bubble in which we had come.
" Confound it ! " I said, *' but at this rate
we might have stopped at home ; " and I
squatted on the bale and shivered, and drew
my blanket closer about me.
Abruptly the moisture turned to spangles
and fronds of frost. *' Can you reach the
electric heater," said Cavor. " Yes — that
black knob. Or we shall freeze."
I did not wait to be told twice. ** And
now," said I, ** what are we to do?"
*' Wait, "he said.
"Of course. We shall have to wait unti^l
our air gets warm again, and then this glass
will clear. We can't do anything till then.
It's night here yet ; we must wait for the day to
overtake us. Meanwhile, don't you feel hungry ?
For a space I did not answer him, but sat
fretting. I turned reluctantly from the smeared
puzzle of the glass and stared at his face.
" Yes," I said, " I am hungry. I feel some-
how enormously disappointed. I had ex-
pected — I don't know what I had expected,
but not this."
76 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
I summoned my philosophy, and rearranging
my blanket about me sat down on the bale
again and began my first meal on the moon.
I don't think I finished it — I forget. Presently,
first in patches, then running rapidly together
into wider spaces, came the clearing of the
glass, came the drawing of the misty veil that
hid the moon world from our eyes.
We peered out upon the landscape of the
SUNRISE ON THE MOON
As we saw it first it was the wildest and most
desolate of scenes. We were in an enormous
amphitheatre, a vast circular plain, the floor
of the giant crater. Its cliff-like walls closed
us in on every side. From the Westward the
light of the unseen sun fell upon them, reach-
ing to the very foot of the cliff,' and showed
a disordered escarpment of drab and greyish
rock, lined here and there with banks and
crevices of snow. This was perhaps a dozen
miles away, but at first no intervening atmos-
phere diminished in the slightest the minutely
detailed brilliancy with which these things
glared at us. They stood out clear and
dazzling against a background of starry black-
ness that seemed to our earthly eyes rather
a gloriously spangled velvet curtain than the
spaciousness of the sky.
The eastward cliff was at first merely a
starless selvedge to the starry dome. No
78 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
rosy flush, no creeping pallor, announced the
commencing day. Only the Corona, the
Zodiacal light, a huge cone-shaped, luminous
haze, pointing up towards the splendour of
the morning star, warned us of the imminent
nearness of the sun.
Whatever light was about us was reflected
by the westward cliffs. It showed a huge
undulating plain, cold and grey, a grey that
deepened eastward into the absolute raven
darkness of the cliff shadow. Innumerable
rounded grey summits, ghostly hummocks,
billows of snowy substance, stretching crest
beyond crest into the remote obscurity, gave
us our first inkling of the distance of the crater
wall. These hummocks looked like snow.
At the time I thought they were snow. But
they were not — they were mounds and masses
of frozen air !
So it was at first, and then, sudden, swift,
and amazing, came the lunar day.
The sunlight had crept down the cliff, it
touched the drifted masses at its base and
incontinently came striding with seven-leagued
boots towards us. The distant cliff seemed to
shift and quiver, and at the touch of the dawn
a reek of grey vapour poured upward from
the crater floor, whirls and puffs and drifting
SUNRISE ON THE MOON 79
wraiths of grey, thicker and broader and
denser, until at last the whole westward plain
was steaming like a wet handkerchief held
before the fire, and the westward cliffs were
no more than a refracted glare beyond.
** It is air," said Cavor. ** It must be air —
or it would not rise like this — at the mere
touch of a sunbeam. And at this pace. ..."
He peered upwards. ** Look ! " he said.
** What ? " I asked.
" In the sky. Already. On the blackness
— a little touch of blue. See ! The stars
seem larger. And the little ones and all
those dim nebulosities we saw in empty space
— they are hidden ! "
Swiftly, steadily the day approached us.
Grey summit after grey summit was overtaken
by the blaze, and turned to a smoking white
intensity. At last there was nothing to the
west of us but a bank of surging fog, the
tumultuous advance and ascent of cloudy haze.
The distant cliff had receded further and further,
had loomed and changed through the whirl, and
foundered and vanished at last in its confusion.
Nearer came that steaming advance, nearer
and nearer, coming as fast as the shadow of
a cloud before the south-west wind. About
us rose a thin anticipatory haze.
8o THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
Cavor gripped my arm.
" What ? " I said.'
" Look ! The sunrise ! The sun ! "
He turned me about and pointed to the brow
of the eastward cliff, looming above the haze
about us, scarce lighter than the darkness of
the sky. But now its line was marked by
strange reddish shapes, tongues of vermilion
flame that writhed and danced. I fancied it
must be spirals of vapour that had caught the
light and made this crest of fiery tongues
against the sky, but indeed it was the solar
prominences I saw, a crown of fire about the
sun that is forever hidden from earthly eyes by
our atmospheric veil.
And then — the sun !
Steadily, inevitably came a brilliant line,
came a thin edge of intolerable effulgence that
took a circular shape, became a bow, became a
blazing sceptre, and hurled a shaft of heat at
us as though it was a spear.
It seemed verily to stab my eyes ! I cried
aloud and turned about blinded, groping for
my blanket beneath the bale.
And with that incandescence came a sound,
the first sound that had reached us from with-
out since we left the earth, a hissing and rust-
ling, the stormy trailing of the aerial garment
SUNRISE ON THE MOON 8i
of the advancing day. And with the coming
of the sound and the light the sphere lurched,
and blinded and dazzled we staggered help-
lessly against each other. It lurched again,
and the hissing grew louder. I had shut my
eyes perforce, I was making clumsy efforts to
cover my head with my blanket, and this
second lurch sent me helplessly off my feet.
I fell against the bale, and opening my eyes
had a momentary glimpse of the air just out-
side our glass. It was running — it was boiling
— like snow into which a white-hot rod is thrust.
What had been solid air had suddenly at the
touch of the sun become a paste, a mud, a
slushy liquefaction, that hissed and bubbled
There came a still more violent whirl of the
sphere, and we had clutched one another. In
another moment we were spun about again.
Round we went and over, and then I was on
all fours. The lunar dawn had hold of us. It
meant to show us little men what the moon
could do with us.
I caught a second glimpse of things without,
puffs of vapour, half-liquid slush, excavated,
sliding, falling, sliding. We dropped into
darkness. I went down with Cavor's knees
in my chest. Then he seemed to fly away
82 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
from me, and for a moment I lay with all the
breath out of my body staring upward. A
toppling crag of the melting stuff had splashed
over us, buried us, and now it thinned and
boiled off us. I saw the bubbles dancing on
the glass above. I heard Cavor exclaiming
Then some huge landslip in the thawing air
had caught us, and spluttering expostulation,
we began to roll down a slope, rolling faster
and faster, leaping crevasses and rebounding
from banks, faster and faster, westward into
the white-hot boiling tumult of the lunar day.
Clutching at one another we spun about,
pitched this way and that, our bale of pack-
ages leaping at us, pounding at us. We col-
lided, we gripped, we were torn asunder — our
heads met, and the whole universe burst into
fiery darts and stars ! On the earth we should
have smashed one another a dozen times, but
on the moon, luckily for us, our weight was
only one-sixth of what it is terrestrially, and we
fell very mercifully. I recall a sensation of
utter sickness, a feeling as if my brain were
upside down within my skull, and then
Something was at work upon my face, some
thin feelers worried my ears. Then I dis-
SUNRISE ON THE MOON 83
covered the brilliance of the landscape around
was mitigated by blue spectacles. Cavor bent
over me, and I saw his face upside down, his
eyes also protected by tinted goggles. His
breath came irregularly, and his lip was bleed-
ing from a bruise. " Better ? " he said, wiping
the blood with the back of his hand.
Everything seemed swaying for a space, but
that was simply my giddiness. I perceived
that he had closed some of the shutters in the
outer sphere to save me from the direct blaze
of the sun. I was aware that everything about
us was very brilliant.
/* Lord ! " I gasped. '' But this ! "
I craned my neck to see. I perceived there
was a blinding glare outside, an utter change
from the gloomy darkness of our first impres-
sions. ** Have I been Insensible long ? " I
** I don't know — the chronometer is broken.
Some little time. . . . My dear chap ! I have
been afraid. . . ."
I lay for a space taking this in. I saw his
face still bore evidences of emotion. For a
while I said nothing. I passed an inquisitive
hand over my contusions, and surveyed his face
for similar damages. The back of my right
hand had suffered most, and was skinless and
84 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
raw. My forehead was bruised and had bled.
He handed me a little measure with some of
the restorative — I forget the name of it — he
had brought with us. After a time I felt a
little better. I began to stretch my limbs
carefully. Soon I could talk.
"It wouldn't have done," I said, as though
there had been no interval.
" No ! it wouldnL"
He thought, his hands hanging over his
knees. He peered through the glass and
then stared at me. *' Good Lord ! " he said.
" What has happened ? " I asked after a
pause. " Have we jumped to the tropics ? "
"It was as I expected. This air has eva-
porated — if it is air. At any rate, it has
evaporated and the surface of the moon is
showing. We are lying on a bank of earthy
rock. Here and there bare soil is exposed.
A queer sort of soil ! "
It occurred to him that it was unnecessary
to explain. He assisted me into a sitting
position, and I could see with my own eyes.
A LUNAR MORNING
The harsh emphasis, the pitiless black and
white of the scenery had altogether disappeared.
The glare of the sun had taken upon itself a
faint tinge of amber ; the shadows upon the
cliff of the crater wall were deeply purple. To
the eastward a dark bank of fog still crouched
and sheltered from the sunrise, but to the west-
ward the sky was blue and clear. I began to
realise the length of my insensibility.
We were no longer in a void. An atmos-
phere had arisen about us. The outline of
things had gained in character, had grown
acute and varied ; save for a shadowed space
of white substance here and there, white sub-
stance that was no longer air but snow, the
arctic appearance had gone altogether. Every-
where broad rusty brown spaces of bare and
tumbled earth spread to the blaze of the sun.
Here and there at the edge of the snowdrifts
were transient little pools and eddies of water,
86 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
the only things stirring in that expanse of
barrenness. The sunlight inundated the upper
two blinds of our sphere and turned our
climate to high summer, but our feet were still
in shadow, and the sphere was lying upon a
drift of snow.
And scattered here and there upon the slope,
and emphasised by little white threads of un-
thawed snow upon their shady sides, were
shapes like sticks, dry twisted sticks of the
same rusty hue as the rock upon which they
lay. That caught one's thoughts sharply.
Sticks! On a lifeless world? Then as my
eye grew more accustomed to the texture of
their substance, I perceived that almost all this
surface had a fibrous texture, like the carpet
of brown needles one finds beneath the shade
of pine trees.
" Cavor ! " I said.
*' It may be a dead world now — but
Something arrested my attention. I had
discovered among these needles a number of
little round objects. And it seemed to me that
one of these had moved.
** Cavor," I whispered.
*' What ? "
We watched intensely "
A LUNAR MORNING 87
But I did not answer at once. I stared in-
credulous. For an instant I could not believe
my eyes. I gave an inarticulate cry. I gripped
his arm. I pointed. ** Look ! " I cried, finding
my tongue. " There ! Yes I And there ! "
H is eyes followed my pointing finger. * * E h ? "
How can I describe the thing I saw } It is
so petty a thing to state, and yet it seemed so
wonderful, so pregnant with emotion. I have
said that amidst the stick-like litter were these
rounded bodies, these little oval bodies that
might have passed as very small pebbles. And
now first one and then another had stirred, had
rolled over and cracked, and down the crack of
each of them showed a minute line of yellowish
green, thrusting outward to meet the hot en-
couragement of the newly-risen sun. For a
moment that was all, and then there stirred
and burst a third !
"It is a seed," said Cavor. And then I
heard him whisper very softly, '' Life !''
" Life ! " And immediately it poured upon
us that our vast journey had not been made
in vain, that we had come to no arid waste
of minerals, but to a world that lived and
moved ! We watched intensely. I remember
I kept rubbing the glass before me with
88 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
my sleeve, jealous of the faintest suspicion of
The picture was clear and vivid only in the
middle of the field. All about that centre the
dead fibres and seeds were magnified and dis-
torted by the curvature of the glass. But we
could see enough ! One after another all down
the sunlit slope these miraculous little brown
bodies burst and gaped apart, like seed-pods,
like the husks of fruits ; opened eager mouths
that drank in the heat and light pouring in a
cascade from the newly-risen sun.
Every moment more of these seed coats
ruptured, and even as they did so the swelling
pioneers overflowed their rent-distended seed-
cases, and passed into the second stage of
growth. With a steady assurance, a swift de-
liberation, these amazing seeds thrust a rootlet
downward to the earth and a queer little bundle-
like bud into the air. In a little while the
whole slope was dotted with minute plantlets
standing at attention in the blaze of the sun.
They did not stand for long. The bundle-
like buds swelled and strained and opened with
a jerk, thrusting out a coronet of little sharp
tips, spreading a whorl of tiny, spiky, brownish
leaves, that lengthened rapidly, lengthened
visibly even as we watched. The movement
A LUNAR MORNING 89
was slower than any animal's, swifter than any
plant's I have ever seen before. How can I
suggest it to you — the way that growth went
on? The leaf tips grew so that they moved
onward even while we looked at them. The
brown seed-case shrivelled and was absorbed
with an equal rapidity. Have you ever on
a cold day taken a thermometer Into your
warm hand and watched the little thread of
mercury creep up the tube ? These moon
plants grew like that.
In a few minutes, as it seemed, the buds of
the more forward of these plants had lengthened
into a stem and were even putting forth a
second whorl of leaves, and all the slope that
had seemed so recently a lifeless stretch of
litter was now dark with the stunted olive-
green herbage of bristling spikes that swayed
with the vigour of their growing.
I turned about, and behold ! along the upper
edge of a rock to the eastward a similar fringe
in a scarcely less forward condition swayed
and bent, dark against the blinding glare of
the sun. And beyond this fringe was the
silhouette of a plant mass, branching clumsily
like a cactus, and swelling visibly, swelling like
a bladder that fills with air.
Then to the westward also I discovered that
90 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
another such distended form was rising over
the scrub. But here the light fell upon its
sleek sides, and I could see that its colour was a
vivid orange hue. It rose as one watched it ; if
one looked away from it for a minute and then
back, its outline had changed ; it thrust out
blunt congested branches until in a little time
it rose a coralline shape of many feet in height.
Compared with such a growth the terrestrial
puff-ball, which will sometimes swell a foot in
diameter in a single night, would be a hopeless
laggard. But then the puff-ball grows against
a gravitational pull six times that of the moon.
Beyond, out of gullies and flats that had been
hidden from us, but not from the quickening
sun, over reefs and banks of shining rock, a
bristling beard of spiky and fleshy vegetation
was straining into view, hurrying tumultuously
to take advantage of the brief day in which it
must flower and fruit and seed again and die.
It was like a miracle, that growth. So, one
must imagine, the trees and plants arose at
the Creation and covered the desolation of the
Imagine it ! Imagine that dawn ! The re-
surrection of the frozen air, the stirring and
quickening of the soil, and then this silent
uprising of vegetation, this unearthly ascent of
A LUNAR MORNING 91
fleshiness and spikes. Conceive it all lit by a
blaze that would make the intensest sunlight of
earth seem watery and weak. And still around
this stirring jungle, wherever there was shadow,
lingered banks of bluish snow. And to have the
picture of our impression complete, you must
bear in mind that we saw it all through a thick
bent glass, distorting it as things are distorted
by a lens, acute only in the centre of the picture,
and very bright there, and towards the edges
magnified and unreal.
We ceased to gaze. We turned to each other,
the same thought, the same question in our
eyes. For these plants to grow, there must be
some air, however attenuated, air that we also
should be able to breathe.
" The manhole ? " I said.
" Yes ! " said Cavor, ** if it is air we see ! "
" In a little while," I said, "these plants will
be as high as we are. Suppose — suppose after
all — Is it certain ? How do you know that
stuff is air."* It may be nitrogen — it may be
carbonic acid even ! "
** That is easy," he said, and set about proving
it. He produced a big piece of crumpled paper
from the bale, lit it, and thrust it hastily through
the manhole valve. I bent forward and peered
down through the thick glass for its appearance
outside, that little flame on whose evidence de-
pended so much !
I saw the paper drop out and lie lightly upon
PROSPECTING BEGINS 93
the snow. The pink flame of its burning
vanished. For an instant it seemed to be
extinguished. And then I saw a little blue
tongue upon the edge of it that trembled, and
crept, and spread !
Quietly the whole sheet, save where it lay in
immediate contact with the snow, charred and
shrivelled and sent up a quivering thread oi
smoke. There was no doubt left to me ; the
atmosphere of the moon was either pure oxygen
or air, and capable therefore — unless its tenuity
was excessive — of supporting our alien life.
We might emerge — and live !
I sat down with my legs on either side of
the manhole and prepared to unscrew it, but
Cavor stopped me. " There is first a little
precaution," he said. He pointed out that
although it was certainly an oxygenated atmos-
phere outside, it might still be so rarified as to
cause us grave injury. He reminded me of
mountain sickness, and of the bleeding that
often afflicts aeronauts who have ascended too
swiftly, and he spent some time in the prepara-
tion of a sickly-tasting drink which he insisted
on my sharing. It made me feel a little numb,
but otherwise had no effect on me. Then he
permitted me to begin unscrewing.
Presently the glass stopper of the manhole
94 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
was so far undone that the denser air within
our sphere began to escape along the thread
of the screw, singing as a kettle sings before it
boils. Thereupon he made me desist. It
speedily became evident that the pressure out-
side was very much less than it was within.
How much less it was we had no means of
I sat grasping the stopper with both hands,
ready to close it again if, in spite of our intense
hope, the lunar atmosphere should after all
prove too rarified for us, and Cavor sat with
a cylinder of compressed oxygen at hand to
restore our pressure. We looked at one
another in silence, and then at the fantastic
vegetation that swayed and grew visibly and
noiselessly without. And ever that shrill
My blood-vessels began to throb in my ears,
and the sound of Cavor's movements diminished.
I noted how still everything had become, be-
cause of the thinning of the air.
As our air sizzled out from the screw the
moisture of it condensed in little puffs.
Presently I experienced a peculiar shortness
of breath, that lasted indeed during the whole
of the time of our exposure to the moon's
exterior atmosphere, and a rather unpleasant
PROSPECTING BEGINS 95
sensation about the ears and finger-nails and
the back of the throat grew upon my attention,
and presently passed off again.
But then came vertigo and nausea that
abruptly changed the quality of my courage. I
gave the lid of the manhole half a turn and
made a hasty explanation to Cavor ; but now
he was the more sanguine. He answered me
in a voice that seemed extraordinarily small
and remote, because of the thinness of the air
that carried the sound. He recommended a
nip of brandy, and set me the example, and
presently I felt better. I turned the manhole
stopper back again. The throbbing in my ears
grew louder, and then I remarked that the
piping note of the outrush had ceased. For a
time I could not be sure that it had ceased.
'* Well ? " said Cavor in the ghost of a voice.
"Well?" said I.
** Shall we go on ? "
I thought. "Is this all?"
" If you can stand it."
By way of answer I went on unscrewing. I
lifted the circular operculum from its place and
laid it carefully on the bale. A flake or so of
snow whirled and vanished as that thin and
unfamiliar air took possession of our sphere. I
knelt, and then seated myself at the edge of the
96 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
manhole, peering over it. Beneath, within a
yard of my face, lay the untrodden snow of the
There came a little pause. Our eyes met.
" It doesn't distress your lungs too much ? "
*' No," I said. " I can stand this."
He stretched out his hand for his blanket,
thrust his head through its central hole and
wrapped it about him. He sat down on the
edge of the manhole, he let his feet drop until
they were within six inches of the lunar ground.
He hesitated for a moment, then thrust himself
forward, dropped these intervening inches, and
stood upon the untrodden soil of the moon.
As he stepped forward he was refracted
grotesquely by the edge of the glass. He
stood, for a moment looking this way and that.
Then he drew himself together and leapt.
The glass distorted everything, but it seemed
to me even then to be an extremely big leap.
He had at one bound become remote. He
seemed twenty or thirty feet off. He was
standing high upon a rocky mass and gesticu-
lating back to me. Perhaps he was shouting
— but the sound did not reach me. But how
the deuce had he done this ? I felt like a man
who has just seen a new conjuring trick.
PROSPECTING BEGINS 97
In a puzzled state of mind I too dropped
through the manhole. I stood up. Just in
front of me the snowdrift had fallen away and
made a sort of ditch. I made a step and
I found myself flying through the air, saw
the rock on which he stood coming to meet
me, clutched it and clung in a state of infinite
I gasped a painful laugh. I was tremen-
dously confused. Cavor bent down and shouted
in piping tones for me to be careful.
I had forgotten that on the moon, with only
an eighth part of the earth's mass and a quarter
of its diameter, my weight was barely a sixth
what it was on earth. But now that fact in-
sisted on being remembered.
" We are out of Mother Earth's leading-
strings now," he said.
With a guarded effort I raised myself to the
top, and moving as cautiously as a rheumatic
patient, stood up beside him under the blaze
of the sun. The sphere lay behind us on its
dwindling snowdrift thirty feet away.
As far as the eye could see over the enor-
mous disorder of rocks that formed the crater
floor, the same bristling scrub that surrounded
us was starting into life, diversified here and
98 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
there by bulging masses of a cactus form, and
scarlet and purple lichens that grew so fast they
seemed to crawl over the rocks. The whole
area of the crater seemed to me then to be one
similar wilderness up to the very foot of the
This cliff was apparently bare of vegetation
save at its base, and with buttresses and ter-
races and platforms that did not very greatly
attract our attention at the time. It was many
miles away from us in every direction, we
seemed to be almost at the centre of the crater,
and we saw it through a certain haziness that
drove before the wind. For there was even a
wind now in the thin air, a swift yet weak wind
that chilled exceedingly but exerted little pres-
sure. It was blowing round the crater, as it
seemed, to the hot illuminated side from the
foggy darkness under the sunward wall. It
was difficult to look into this eastward fog ; we
had to peer with half-closed eyes beneath the
shade of our hands, because of the fierce in-
tensity of the motionless sun.
** It seems to be deserted," said Cavor, "ab-
I looked about me again. I retained even
then a clinging hope of some quasi-human evi-
dence, some pinnacle of building, some house
PROSPECTING BEGINS 99
or engine, but everywhere one looked spread
the tumbled rocks in peaks and crests, and the
darting scrub and those bulging cacti that
swelled and swelled, a flat negation as it
seemed of all such hope.
** It looks as though these plants had it to
themselves," I said. " I see no trace of any
"No insects — no birds — no ! Not a trace,
not a scrap nor particle of animal life. If there
was — what would they do in the night.'* . . .
No ; there's just these plants alone."
I shaded my eyes with my hand. " It's like
the landscape of a dream. These things are
less like earthly land plants than the things
one imagines among the rocks at the bottom
of the sea. Look at that yonder ! One might
imagine it a lizard changed into a plant. And
the glare ! "
" This is only the fresh morning," said
He sighed and looked about him. " This is
no world for men," he said. " And yet in a
way — it appeals."
He became silent for a time, then commenced
his meditative humming.
I started at a gentle touch, and found a thin
sheet of livid lichen lapping over my shoe. I
loo THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
kicked at it and it fell to powder, and each
speck began to grow.
I heard Cavor exclaim sharply, and per-
ceived that one of the fixed bayonets of the
scrub had pricked him.
He hesitated, his eyes sought among the
rocks about us. A sudden blaze of pink had
crept up a ragged pillar of crag. It was a most
extraordinary pink, a livid magenta.
** Look ! " said I, turning, and behold Cavor
had vanished !
For an instant I stood transfixed. Then I
made a hasty step to look over the verge of
the rock. But in my surprise at his disap-
pearance I forgot once more that we were on
the moon. The thrust of my foot that I made
in striding would have carried me a yard on
earth ; on the moon it carried me six — a good
five yards over the edge. For the moment
the thing had something of the effect of those
nightmares when one falls and falls. For while
one falls sixteen feet in the first second of a fall
on earth, on the moon one falls two, and with
only a sixth of one's weight. I fell, or rather
I jumped down, about ten yards I suppose. It
seemed to take quite a long time, five or six
seconds, I should think. I floated through the
air and fell like a feather, knee-deep in a snow-
" I realised my leap had been too violent
PROSPECTING BEGINS loi
drift in the bottom of a gully of blue-grey,
white-veined rock. ^
I looked about me. ** Cavor ! " I cried ; but
no Cavor was visible.
'' Cavor ! " I cried louder, and the rocks
I turned fiercely to the rocks and clambered
to the summit of them. *' Cavor!" I cried.
My voice sounded like the voice of a lost lamb.
The sphere, too, was not in sight, and for a
moment a horrible feeling of desolation pinched
Then I saw him. He was laughing and
gesticulating to attract my attention. He was
on a bare patch of rock twenty or thirty yards
away. I could not hear his voice, but "jump"
said his gestures. I hesitated, the distance
seemed enormous. Yet I reflected that surely
I must be able to clear a greater distance than
I made a step back, gathered myself to-
gether, and leapt with ' ■ my might. I seemed
to shoot right up in the air as though I should
never come down. . . .
It was horrible and delightful, and as wild
as a nightmare, to go flying off in this fashion.
I realised my leap had been altogether too
violent. I flew clean over Cavor's head and
ro2 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
beheld a spiky confusion in a gully spreading
to meet my fall. I gave a yelp of alarm. I
put out my hands and straightened my legs.
I hit a huge fungoid bulk that burst all about
me, scattering a mass of orange spores in every
direction, and covering me with orange powder.
I rolled over spluttering, and came to rest con-
vulsed with breathless laughter.
I became aware of Cavor's little round face
peering over a bristling hedge. He shouted
some faded inquiry. ** Eh ? " I tried to shout,
but could not do so for want of breath. He
made his way towards me, coming gingerly
among the bushes.
" We've got to be careful," he said. " This
moon has no discipline. She'll let us smash
He helped me to my feet. **You exerted
yourself too much," he said, dabbing at the
yellow stuff with his hand to remove it from
I stood passive and panting, allowing him to
beat off the jelly from my knees and elbows
and lecture me upon my misfortunes. "We
don't quite allow for the gravitation. Our
muscles are scarcely educated yet. We must
practise a little, when you have got your
PROSPECTING BEGINS 103
I pulled two or three little thorns out of my
hand, and sat for a time on a boulder of rock.
My muscles were quivering, and I had that
feeling of personal disillusionment that comes
at the first fall to the learner of cycling on
It suddenly occurred to Cavor that the cold
air in the gully, after the brightness of the sun,
might give me a fever. So we clambered back
into the sunlight. We found that beyond a
few abrasions I had received no serious injuries
from my tumble, and at Cavor's suggestion we
were presently looking round for some safe
and easy landing-place for my next leap. We
chose a rocky slab some ten yards off, sepa-
rated from us by a little thicket of olive-green
" Imagine it there ! " said Cavor, who was
assuming the airs of a trainer, and he pointed
to a spot about four feet from my toes. This
leap I managed without difficulty, and I must
confess I found a certain satisfaction in Cavor's
falling short by a foot or so and tasting the
spikes of the scrub. **One has to be careful,
you see," he said, pulling out his thorns, and
with that he ceased to be my Mentor, and
became my fellow learner in the art of lunar
I04 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
We chose a still easier jump and did it
without difficulty, and then leapt back again,
and to and fro several times, accustoming our
muscles to the new standard. I could never
have believed had I not experienced it, how
rapid that adaptation would be. In a very-
little time indeed, certainly after fewer than
thirty leaps, we could judge the effort neces-
sary for a distance with almost terrestrial
And all this time the lunar plants were
growing around us, higher and denser and
more entangled, every moment thicker and
taller, spiked plants, green cactus masses,
fungi, fleshy and lichenous things, strangest
radiate and sinuous shapes. But we were so
intent upon our leaping, that for a time we
gave.no heed to their unfaltering expansion.
An extraordinary elation had taken pos-
session of us. Partly, I think, it was our
sense of release from the confinement of the
sphere. Mainly, however, the thin sweetness
of the air, which I am certain contained a
much larger proportion of oxygen than our
terrestrial atmosphere. In spite of the strange
quality of all about us, I felt as adventurous
and experimental as a cockney would do placed
for the first time among mountains ; and I do
PROSPECTING BEGINS 105
not think it occurred to either of us, face to
face though we were with the Unknown, to be
very greatly afraid.
We were bitten by a spirit of enterprise.
We selected a lichenous kopje perhaps fifteen
yards away, and landed neatly on its summit
one after the other. ** Good ! " we cried to
each other ; " good ! " and Cavor made three
steps and went off to a tempting slope of snow
a good twenty yards and more beyond. I
stood for a moment struck by the grotesque
effect of his soaring figure — his dirty cricket
cap, and spiky hair, his little round body, his
arms and his knickerbockered legs tucked up
tightly — against the weird spaciousness of the
lunar scene. A gust of laughter seized me,
and then I stepped off to follow. Plump ! I
dropped beside him.
We made a few gargantuan strides, leapt
three or four times more, and sat down at last
in a lichenous hollow. Our lungs were painful.
We sat holding our sides and recovering our
breath, looking appreciation at one another.
Cavor panted something about ** amazing sen-
sations." And then came a thought into my
head. For the moment it did not seem a par-
ticularly appalling thought, simply a natural
question arising out of the situation.
io6 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
"By the way," I said, *' where exactly is the
sphere ? "
Cavor looked at me. " Eh ? "
The full meaning of what we were saying
struck me sharply.
" Cavor ! " I cried, laying a hand on his arm,
*' where is the sphere ? "
LOST MEN IN THE MOON
His face caught something of my dismay.
He stood up and stared about him at the
scrub that fenced us in and rose about us,
straining upward in a passion of growth. He
put a dubious hand to his lips. He spoke
with a sudden lack of assurance. ** I think,"
he said slowly, " we left it . . . somewhere
. . . about therer
He pointed a hesitating finger that wavered
in an arc.
" Tm not sure." His look of consternation
deepened. " Anyhow," he said, with his eyes
on me, " it can't be far."
We had both stood up. We made unmean-
ing ejaculations, our eyes sought in the twining,
thickening jungle round about us.
All about us on the sunlit slopes frothed and
swayed the darting shrubs, the swelling cactus,
the creeping lichens, and wherever the shade
remained the snowdrifts lingered. North,
io8 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
south, east, and west spread an identical
monotony of unfamiliar forms. And some-
where, buried already among this tangled
confusion, was our sphere, our home, our
only provision, our only hope of escape from
this fantastic wilderness of ephemeral growths
into which we had come.
** I think, after all," he said, pointing sud-
denly, " it might be over there."
** No," I said. *' We have turned in a curve.
See ! here is the mark of my heels. It's clear
the thing must be more to the eastward, much
more. No ! — the sphere must be over there."
** I think,'' said Cavor, " I kept the sun upon
my right all the time."
** Every leap, it seems to me,'' I said, "my
shadow flew before me."
We stared into one another's eyes. The
area of the crater had become enormously vast
to our imaginations, the growing thickets
already impenetrably dense.
** Good heavens ! What fools we have
been ! "
" It's evident that we must find it again,"
said Cavor, "and that soon. The sun grows
stronger. We should be fainting with the
heat already if it wasn't so dry. And . . •
LOST MEN IN THE MOON 109
I stared at him. I had not suspected this
aspect of the matter before. But it came to
me at once — a positive craving. '* Yes," I
said with emphasis. ** I am hungry too."
He stood up with a look of active resolution.
** Certainly we must find the sphere."
As calmly as possible we surveyed the In-
terminable reefs and thickets that formed the
floor of the crater, each of us weighing in
silence the chances of our finding the sphere
before we were overtaken by heat and hunger.
** It can't be fifty yards from here," said
Cavor, with indecisive gestures. *' The only
thing is to beat round about until we come
" That is all we can do," I said, without any
alacrity to begin our hunt. '' I wish this con-
founded spike bush did not grow so fast ! "
" That's just it," said Cavor. *' But it was
lying on a bank of snow."
I stared about me in the vain hope of recog-
nising some knoll or shrub that had been near
the sphere. But everywhere was a confusing
sameness, everywhere the aspiring bushes, the
distending fungi, the dwindling snow banks,
steadily and inevitably changed. The sun
scorched and stung, the faintness of an un-
accountable hunger mingled with our infinite
no THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
perplexity. And even as we stood there, con-
fused and lost amidst unprecedented things,
we became aware for the first time of a sound
upon the moon other than the stir of the grow-
ing plants, the faint sighing of the wind, or
those that we ourselves had made. .
Boom . . . Boom . . . Boom . . .
It came from beneath our feet, a sound in
the earth. We seemed to hear it with our feet
as much as with our ears. Its dull resonance
was muffled by distance, thick with the quality
of intervening substance. No sound that I
can imagine could have astonished us more,
or have changed more completely the quality
of things about us. For this sound, rich, slow,
and deliberate, seemed to us as though it could
be nothing but the striking of some gigantic
Boom . . . Boom . . . Boom . . .
Sound suggestive of still cloisters, of sleep-
less nights in crowded cities, of vigils and
the awaited hour, of all that is orderly and
methodical in life, booming out pregnant and
mysterious in this fantastic desert ! To the
eye everything was unchanged : the desolation
of bushes and cacti waving silently in the wind,
stretched unbroken to the distant cliffs, the
still dark sky Was empty overhead, and the hot
LOST MEN IN THE MOON iii
sun hung and burned. And through it all,
a warning, a threat, throbbed this enigma of
Boom . . . Boom . . . Boom . . .
We questioned one another in faint and
faded voices, **A clock?"
** Like a clock ! "
*' What is it ? "
" What can it be ? "
** Count," was Cavor's belated suggestion,
and at that word the striking ceased.
The silence, the rhythmic disappointment
of the silence, came as a fresh shock. For a
moment one could doubt whether one had ever
heard a sound. Or whether it might not still
be going on. Had I indeed heard a sound ?
I felt the pressure of Cavor's hand upon my
arm. He spoke in an undertone, as though
he feared to wake some sleeping thing. *' Let
us keep together," he whispered, '*and look
for the sphere. We must get back to the
sphere. This is beyond our understanding,"
" Which way shall we go ? "
He hesitated. An intense persuasion of
presences, of unseen things about us and near
us, dominated our minds. What could they
be.-* Where could they be? Was this arid
desolation, alternately frozen and scorched.
112 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
only the outer rind and mask of some sub-
terranean world ? And if so, what sort of
world ? What sort of inhabitants might it not
presently disgorge upon us ?
And then, stabbing the aching stillness as
vivid and sudden as an unexpected thunder-
clap, came a clang and rattle as though great
gates of metal had suddenly been flung apart.
It arrested our steps. We stood gaping
helplessly. Then Cavor stole towards me.
** I do not understand I " he whispered close
to my face. He waved his hand vaguely sky-
ward, the vague suggestion of still vaguer
" A hiding-place ! If anything came . . ."
I looked about us. I nodded my head in
assent to him.
We started off, moving stealthily with the
most exaggerated precautions against noise.
We went towards a thicket of scrub. A
clangour like hammers flung about a boiler
hastened our steps. **We must crawl,"
The lower leaves of the bayonet plants,
already overshadowed by the newer ones
above, were beginning to wilt and shrivel so
that we could thrust our way in among the
thickening stems without serious injury. A
LOST MEN IN THE MOON 113
stab in the face or arm we did not heed. At
the heart of the thicket I stopped, and stared
panting into Cavor's face.
" Subterranean," he whispered. ** Below."
** They may come out."
*' We must find the sphere ! "
"Yes," I said; ** but how?"
" Crawl till we come to it."
- But if we don't .^ "
*' Keep hidden. See what they are like."
** We will keep together," said I.
He thought. "Which way shall we go?"
'* We must take our chance."
We peered this way and that. Then very
circumspectly, we began to crawl through the
lower jungle, making, so far as we could judge,
a circuit, halting now at every waving fungus,
at every sound, intent only on the sphere from
which we had so foolishly emerged. Ever and
again from out of the earth beneath us came
concussions, beatings, strange, inexplicable, me-
chanical sounds ; and once, and then again,
we thought we heard something, a faint rattle
and tumult, borne to us through the air. But
fearful as we were we dared essay no vantage-
point to survey the crater. For long we saw
nothing of the beings whose sounds were so
abundant and insistent. But for the faintness
of our hunger and the drying of our throats
114 ^HE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
that crawling would have had the quality of a
very vivid dream. It was so absolutely unreal.
The only element with any touch of reality
was these sounds.
Figure it to yourself! About us the dream-
like jungle, with the silent bayonet leaves
darting overhead, and the silent, vivid, sun-
splashed lichens under our hands and knees,
waving with the vigour of their growth as a
carpet waves when the wind gets beneath it.
Ever and again one of the bladder fungi, bulg-
ing and distending under the sun, loomed upon
us. Ever and again some novel shape in vivid
colour obtruded. The very cells that built up
these plants were as large as my thumb, like
beads of coloured glass. And all these things
were saturated in the unmitigated glare of the
sun, were seen against a sky that was bluish black
and spangled still, in spite of the sunlight, with
a few surviving stars. Strange ! the very forms
and texture of the stones were strange. It was
all strange, the feeling of one's body was un-
precedented, every other movement ended in
a surprise. The breath sucked thin in one's
throat, the blood flowed through one's ears in a
throbbing tide — thud, thud, thud, thud. . . .
And ever and again came gusts of turmoil,
hammering, the clanging and throb of machinery,
and presently — the bellowing of great beasts !
THE MOONCALF PASTURES
So we two poor terrestrial castaways, lost in
that wild-growing moon jungle, crawled in
terror before the sounds that had come upon
us. We crawled, as it seemed, a long time
before we saw either Selenite or mooncalf,
though we heard the bellowing and gruntulous
noises of these latter continually drawing nearer
to us. We crawled through stony ravines, over
snow slopes, amidst fungi that ripped like thin
bladders at our thrust, emitting a watery humour,
over a perfect pavement of things like puff-
balls, and beneath interminable thickets of scrub.
And ever more hopelessly our eyes sought for
our abandoned sphere. The noise of the moon-
calves would at times be a vast flat calf-like
sound, at times it rose to an amazed and
wrathy bellowing, and again it would become
a clogged bestial sound, as though these un-
seen creatures had sought to eat and bellow at
the same time.
THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
Our first view was but an inadequate tran-
sitory glimpse, yet none the less disturbing
because it was incomplete. Cavor was crawl-
ing in front at the time, and he first was aware
of their proximity. He stopped dead, arresting
me with a single gesture.
A crackling and smashing of the scrub ap-
peared to be advancing directly upon us, and
then, as we squatted close and endeavoured to
judge of the nearness and direction of this
noise, there came a terrific bellow behind us,
so close and vehement that the tops of the
bayonet scrub bent before it, and one felt the
breath of it hot and moist. And, turning
about, we saw indistinctly through a crowd of
swaying stems the mooncalfs shining sides, and
the long line of its back loomed out against
Of course it is hard for me now to say how
much I saw at that time, because my impres-
sions were corrected by subsequent observation.
First of all impressions was its enormous size ;
the girth of its body was some fourscore feet, its
length perhaps two hundred. Its sides rose
and fell with its laboured breathing. I per-
ceived that its gigantic, flabby body lay along
the ground, and that its skin was of a cor-
rugated white, dappling into blackness along
THE MOONCALF PASTURES 117
the backbone. But of its feet we saw nothing.
I think also that we saw then the profile at
least of the almost brainless head, with its fat-
encumbered neck, its slobbering omnivorous
mouth, its little nostrils, and tight shut eyes.
(For the mooncalf invariably shuts its eyes in
the presence of the sun.) We had a glimpse
of a vast red pit as it opened its mouth to bleat
and bellow again ; we had a breath from the pit,
and then the monster heeled over like a ship,
dragged forward along the ground, creasing all
its leathery skin, rolled again, and so wallowed
past us, smashing a path amidst the scrub, and
w^as speedily hidden from our eyes by the dense
interfacings beyond. Another appeared more
distantly, and then another, and then, as
though he was guiding these animated lumps
of provender to their pasture, a Selenite came
momentarily into ken. My grip upon Cavor's
foot became convulsive at the sight of him, and
we remained motionless and peering long after
he had passed out of our range.
By contrast with the mooncalves he seemed
a trivial being, a mere ant, scarcely five feet
high. He was wearing garments of some
leathery substance, so that no portion of his
actual body appeared, but of this, of course, we
were entirely ignorant. He presented himself,
ii8 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
therefore, as a compact, bristling creature, hav-
ing much of the quality of a complicated insect,
with whip-like tentacles and a clanging arm
projecting from his shining cylindrical body
case. The form of his head was hidden by
his enormous many-spiked helmet — we dis-
covered afterwards that he used the spikes for
prodding" refractory mooncalves — and a pair of
goggles of darkened glass, set very much at
the side, gave a bird-like quality to the metallic
apparatus that covered his face. His arms
did not project beyond his body case, and he
carried himself upon short legs that, wrapped
though they were in warm coverings, seemed
to our terrestrial eyes inordinately flimsy.
They had very short thighs, very long shanks,
and little feet.
In spite of his heavy-looking clothing, he
was progressing with what would be, from the
terrestrial point of view, very considerable
strides, and his clanging arm was busy. The
quality of his motion during the instant of his
passing suggested haste and a certain anger,
and soon after we had lost sight of him we
heard the bellow of a mooncalf change abruptly
into a short, sharp squeal, followed by the
scuffle of its acceleration. And gradually
that bellowing receded, and then came to
THE MOONCALF PASTURES 119
an end, as if the pastures sought had been
We listened. For a space the moon world
was still. But it was some time before we
resumed our crawling search for the vanished
When next we saw mooncalves they were
some little distance away from us in a place of
tumbled rocks. The less vertical surfaces of
the rocks were thick with a speckled green
plant growing in dense mossy clumps, upon
which these creatures were browsing. We
stopped at the edge of the reeds amidst which
we were crawling at the sight of them, peering
out at them and looking round for a second
glimpse of a Selenite. They lay against their
food like stupendous slugs, huge, greasy hulls,
eating greedily and noisily, with a sort of sob-
bing avidity. They seemed monsters of mere
fatness, clumsy and overwhelmed to a degree
that would make a Smithfield ox seem a
model of agility. Their busy, writhing, chew-
ing mouths, and eyes closed, together with the
appetising sound of their munching, made up
an effect of animal enjoyment that was sin-
gularly stimulating to our empty frames.
** Hogs ! " said Cavor with unusual passion.
** Disgusting hogs ! " and after one glare of
I20 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
angry envy crawled off through the bushes
to our right. I stayed long enough to see
that the speckled plant was quite hopeless
for human nourishment, then crawled after
him, nibbling a quill of it between my teeth.
Presently we were arrested again by the
proximity of a Selenite, and this time we were
able to observe him more exactly. Now we
could see that the Selenite covering was indeed
clothing, and not a sort of crustacean integu-
ment. He was quite similar in his costume to
the former one we had glimpsed, except that
ends of something like wadding were protrud-
ing from his neck, and he stood on a promon-
tory of rock and moved his head this way and
that, as though he was surveying the crater.
We lay quite still, fearing to attract his atten-
tion if we moved, and after a time he turned
about and disappeared.
We came upon another drove of mooncalves
bellowing up a ravine, and then we passed over
a place of sounds, sounds of beating machinery,
as if some huge hall of industry came near the
surface there. And while these sounds were
still about us we came to the edge of a great
open space, perhaps two hundred yards in
diameter, and perfectly level. Save for a few
lichens that advanced from its margin this space
THE MOONCALF PASTURES 121
was bare, and presented a powdery surface
of a dusty yellow colour. We were afraid to
strike out across this space, but as it presented
less obstruction to our crawling than the
scrub, we went down upon it and began very
circumspectly to skirt its edge.
For a little while the noises from below
ceased, and everything, save for the faint stir
of the growing vegetation, was very still.
Then abruptly there began an uproar, louder,
more vehement, and nearer than any we had
so far heard. Of a certainty it came from
below. Instinctively we crouched as flat as
we could, ready for a prompt plunge into the
thicket beside us. Each knock and throb
seemed to vibrate through our bodies. Louder
grew this throbbing and beating, and that
irregular vibration increased until the whole
moon world seemed to be jerking and pulsing.
" Cover," whispered Cavor, and I turned
towards the bushes.
At that instant came a thud like- the thud
of a gun, and then a thing happened — it still
haunts me in my dreams. I had turned my
head to look at Cavor's face, and thrust out
my hand in front of me as I did so. And my
hand met nothing ! Plunged suddenly into a
122 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
My chest hit something hard, and I found
myself with my chin on the edge of an un-
fathomable abyss that had suddenly opened
beneath me, my hand extended stiffly into the
void. The whole of that flat circular area was
no more than a gigantic lid, that was now
sliding sideways from off the pit it had covered
into a slot prepared for it.
Had it not been for Cavor I think I should
have remained rigid, hanging over this margin
and staring into the enormous gulf below,
until at last the edges of the slot scraped me
off and hurled me into its depths. But Cavor
had not received the shock that had paralysed
me. He had been a little distance from the
edge when the lid had first opened, and per-
ceiving the peril that held me helpless, gripped
my legs and pulled me backward. I came into
a sitting position, crawled away from the edge
for a space on all fours, then staggered up and
ran after him across the thundering, quivering
sheet of metal. It seemed to be swinging
open with a steadily accelerated velocity, and
the bushes in front of me shifted sideways as
I was none too soon. Cavor's back vanished
amidst the bristling thicket, and as I scrambled
up after him, the monstrous valve came into
THE MOONCALF PASTURES 123
its position with a clang. For a long time we
lay panting, not daring to approach the pit.
But at last very cautiously and bit by bit we
crept into a position from which we could peer
down. The bushes about us creaked and
waved with the force of a breeze that Was
blowing dov;n the shaft. We could see nothing
at first except smooth vertical walls descending
at last into an inpenetrable black. And then
very gradually we became aware of a number
of very faint and little lights going to and fro.
For a time that stupendous gulf of mystery
held us so that we forgot even our sphere. In
time, as we grew more accustomed to the dark-
ness, we could make out very small, dim,
elusive shapes moving about among those
needle-point illuminations. We peered amazed
and incredulous, understanding so little that
we could find no words to say. We could
distinguish nothing that would give us a clue
to the meaning of the faint shapes we saw.
''What can it be?" I asked; "what can
** The engineering ! . . . They must live in
these caverns during the night, and come out
during the day."
'* Cavor ! " I said. ** Can they be — that^Ax.
was something like — men 1 "
124 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
" T/iaf was not a man."
** We dare risk nothing ! "
*' We dare do nothing until we find the
sphere ! "
" We can do nothing until we find the
He assented with a groan and stirred himself
to move. He stared about him for a space,
sighed, and indicated a direction. We struck
out through the jungle. For a time we crawled
resolutely, then with diminishing vigour. Pre-
sently among great shapes of flabby purple
there came a noise of trampling and cries
about us. We lay close, and for a long time
the sounds went to and fro and very near.
But this time we saw nothing. I tried to
whisper to Cavor that I could hardly go with-
out food much longer, but my mouth had
become too dry for whispering.
** Cavor," I said, " I must have food."
He turned a face full of dismay towards me.
*' It's a case for holding out," he said.
** But I must^' I said, "■ and look at my lips ! "
*' I've been thirsty some time."
" If only some of that snow had remained ! "
** It's clean gone ! We're driving from
arctic to tropical at the rate of a degree a
THE MOONCALF PASTURES 125
I gnawed my hand.
*' The sphere ! " he said. ** There Is nothing
for It but the sphere."
We roused ourselves to another spurt of
crawHng. My mind ran entirely on edible
things, on the hissing profundity of summer
drinks, more particularly I craved for beer.
I was haunted by the memory of a sixteen
gallon cask that had swaggered in my Lympne
cellar. I thought of the adjacent larder, and
especially of steak and kidney pie — tender
steak and plenty of kidney, and rich, thick
gravy between. Ever and again I was seized
with fits of hungry yawning. We came to
flat places overgrown with fleshy red things,
monstrous coralline growths ; as we pushed
against them they snapped and broke. I
noted the quality of the broken surfaces. The
confounded stuff certainly looked of a biteable
texture. Then it seemed to me that it smelt
I picked up a fragment and sniffed at It.
** Cavor," I said In a hoarse undertone.
He glanced at me with his face screwed up.
'* Don't," he said. I put down the fragment,
and we crawled on through this tempting
fleshiness for a space.
"Cavor," I asked, "why nof T'
126 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
** Poison," I heard him say, but he did not
We crawled some way before I decided.
'^ I'll chance it," said I.
He made a belated gesture to prevent me.
I stuffed my mouth full. He crouched watching
my face, his own twisted into the oddest ex-
pression. "It's good," I said.
" O Lord ! " he cried.
He watched me munch, his face wrinkled
between desire and disapproval, then suddenly
succumbed to appetite, and began to tear off
huge mouthfuls. For a time we did nothing
The stuff was not unlike a terrestrial mush-
room, only it was much laxer in texture, and, as
one swallowed it, it warmed the throat. At first
we experienced a mere mechanical satisfaction
in eating ; then our blood began to run warmer,
and we tingled at the lips and fingers, and then
new and slightly irrelevant ideas came bubbling
up in our minds.
*' It's good," said I. ** Infernally good !
What a home for our surplus population ! Our
poor surplus population," and I broke off an-
other large portion.
It filled me with a curiously benevolent satis-
faction that there was such good food in the
THE MOONCALF PASTURES 127
moon. The depression of my hunger gave
way to an irrational exhilaration. The dread
and discomfort in which I had been living
vanished entirely. I perceived the moon no
longer as a planet from which I most earnestly
desired the means of escape, but as a possible
refuge for human destitution. I think I forgot
the Selenites, the mooncalves, the lid, and the
noises completely so soon as I had eaten that
Cavor replied to my third repetition of my
** surplus population " remark with similar words
of approval. I felt that my head swam, but I put
this down to the stimulating effect of food after
a long fast. *' Ess'Ient disco v'ry yours, Cavor,"
said I. ** Se'nd on'y to the 'tato."
'* Whajer mean ? " asked Cavor. " 'Scovery
of the moon — se'nd on'y to the 'tato ? "
I looked at him, shocked at his suddenly
hoarse voice, and by the badness of his articu-
lation. It occurred to me in a flash that he
was intoxicated, possibly by the fungus. It
also occurred to me that he erred in imagining
that he had discovered the moon ; he had not
discovered it, he had only reached it. I tried
to lay my hand on his arm and explain this
to him, but the issue was too subtle for his
brain. It was also unexpectedly difficult to
128 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
express. After a momentary attempt to un-
derstand me — I remember wondering if the
fungus had made my eyes as fishy as his — he
set off upon some observations on his own
**We are," he announced with a solemn
hiccup, **the creashurs o' what we eat and
He repeated this, and as I was now in one
of my subtle moods, I determined to dispute it.
Possibly I wandered a little from the point.
But Cavor certainly did not attend at all pro-
perly. He stood up as well as he could, putting
a hand on my head to steady himself, which was
disrespectful, and stood staring about him, quite
devoid now of any fear of the moon beings.
I tried to point out that this was dangerous
for some reason that was not perfectly clear to
me, but the word ** dangerous" had somehow
got mixed with ** indiscreet," and came out
rather more like ''injurious" than either; and
after an attempt to disentangle them, I resumed
my argument, addressing myself principally to
the unfamiliar but attentive coralline growths
on either side. I felt that it was necessary to
clear up this confusion between the moon and
a potato at once — I wandered into a long paren-
thesis on the importance of precision of de-
THE MOONCALF PASTURES 129
finition in argument. I did my best to ignore
the fact that my bodily sensations were no
In some way that I have now forgotten, my
mind was led back to projects of colonisation.
*' We must annex this moon," I said. ** There
must be no shilly-shally. This is part of the
White Man's Burthen. Cavor — we are — Mc
— Satap — mean Satraps! N empire Caesar
never dreamt. B'in all the newspapers. Ca-
vorecia. Bedfordecia. Bedfordecia — hie —
Limited. Mean — unlimited ! Practically."
Certainly I was intoxicated.
I embarked upon an argument to show the
infinite benefits our arrival would confer on the
moon. I involved myself in a rather difficult
proof that the arrival of Columbus was, on the
whole, beneficial to America. I found I had
forgotten the line of argument I had intended
to pursue, and continued to repeat ** Simlar to
C'lumbus," to fill up time.
From that point my memory of the action of
that abominable fungus becomes confused. I
remember vaguely that we declared our inten-
tion of standing no nonsense from any con-
founded insects, that we decided it ill became
men to hide shamefully upon a mere satellite,
that we equipped ourselves with huge armfuls
I30 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
of the fungus — whether for missile purposes or
not I do not know — and, heedless of the stabs
of the bayonet scrub, we started forth into the
Almost immediately we must have come upon
the Selenites. There were six of them, and
they were marching in single file over a rocky
place, making the most remarkable piping and
whining sounds. They all seemed to become
aware of us at once, all instantly became silent
and motionless, like animals, with their faces
turned towards us.
For a moment I was sobered.
*' Insects," murmured Cavor, '' insects ! And
they think I'm going to crawl about on my
stomach — on my vertebrated stomach I
** Stomach," he repeated slowly, as though
he chewed the indignity.
Then suddenly, with a shout of fury, he made
three vast strides and leapt towards them. He
leapt badly ; he made a series of somersaults in
the air, whirled right over them, and vanished
with an enormous splash amidst the cactus
bladders. What the Selenites made of this
amazing, and to my mind undignified irruption
from another planet, I have no means of guess-
ing. I seem to remember the sight of their
backs as they ran in all directions, but I am
"Insects," murmured Cavor, "insects"
THE MOONCALF PASTURES 131
not sure. All these last incidents before obli-
vion came are vague and faint in my mind. I
know I made a step to follow Cavor, and tripped
and fell headlong among the rocks. I was, I
am certain, suddenly and vehemently ill. I
seem to remember a violent struggle, and being
gripped by metallic clasps. . . .
My next clear recollection is that we were
prisoners at we knew not what depth beneath
the moon's surface ; we were in darkness amidst
strange distracting noises ; our bodies were
covered with scratches and bruises, and our
heads racked with pain.
THE SELENITE's FACE
I FOUND myself sitting crouched together In a
tumultuous darkness. For a long time I could
not understand where I was, nor how I had come
to this perplexity. I thought of the cupboard
into which I had been thrust at times when I
was a child, and then of a very dark and noisy
bedroom In which I had slept during an Illness.
But these sounds about me were not the noises
I had known, and there was a thin flavour In
the air like the wind of a stable. Then I sup-
posed we must still be at work upon the sphere,
and that somehow I had got Into the cellar of
Cavor's house. I remembered we had finished
the sphere, and fancied I must still be in it
and travelling through space.
'* Cavor," I said, ** cannot we have some
light ? "
There came no answer.
" Cavor ! " I Insisted.
I was answered by a groan. " My head ! "
I heard him say; **my head!'*
THE SELENITE'S FACE 133
I attempted to press my hands to my brow,
which ached, and discovered they were tied
together. This startled me very much. 1
brought them up to my mouth and felt the
cold smoothness of metal. They were chained
together. I tried to separate my legs, and
made out they were similarly fastened, and
also that I was fastened to the ground by a
much thicker chain about the middle of my
I was more frightened than I had yet been
by anything in all our strange experiences.
For a time I tugged silently at my bonds.
"Cavor!" I cried out sharply. ** Why am I
tied ? Why have you tied me hand and foot ? "
** I haven't tied you," he answered. ** It's
The Selenites ! My mind hung on that for
a space. Then my memories came back to
me : the snowy desolation, the thawing of the
air, the growth of the plants, our strange
hopping and crawling among the rocks and
vegetation of the crater. All the distress of
our frantic search for the sphere returned to
me. . . . Finally the opening of the great lid
that covered the pit !
Then as I strained to trace our later move-
ments down to our present plight, the pain in
134 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
my head became intolerable. I came to an
insurmountable barrier, an obstinate blank.
** Where are we ? "
" How should I know ? "
"Are we dead?"
" What nonsense ! "
" They've got us, then ! "
He made no answer but a grunt. The
lingering traces of the poison seemed to make
him oddly irritable.
" What do you mean to do ? "
** How should I know what to do ? "
" Oh, very well ! " said I, and became
silent. Presently I was roused from a stupor.
*' O Lord! " I cried ; " I wish you'd stop
that buzzing ! "
We lapsed into silence again, listening to
the dull confusion of noises like the muffled
sounds of a street or factory that filled our ears.
I could make nothing of it, my mind pur-
sued first one rhythm and then another, and
questioned it in vain. But after a long time
I became aware of a new and sharper element,
not mingling with the rest but standing out, as
it were, against that cloudy background of
sound. It was a series of relatively very little
THE SELENITE'S FACE 135
definite sounds, tappings and rubbings, like
a loose spray of ivy against a window or a
bird moving about upon a box. We listened
and peered about us, but the darkness was a
velvet pall. There followed a noise like the
subtle movement of the wards of a well-oiled
lock. And then there appeared before me,
hanging as it seemed in an immensity of black,
a thin bright line.
" Look ! " whispered Cavor very softly.
*• What is it ? "
" I don't know."
The thin bright line became a band, and
broader and paler. It took upon itself the
quality of a bluish light falling upon a white-
washed wall. It ceased to be parallel-sided ;
it developed a deep indentation on one side.
I turned to remark this to Cavor, and was
amazed to see his ear in a brilliant illumination
— all the rest of him in shadow. I twisted
my head round as well as my bonds would
permit. " Cavor," I said, '' it's behind ! "
His ear vanished — gave place to an eye I
Suddenly the crack that had been admitting
the light broadened out, and revealed itself as
the space of an opening door. Beyond was
a sapphire vista, and in the doorway stood
136 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
a grotesque outline silhouetted against the
We both made convulsive efforts to turn,
and failing, sat staring over our shoulders at
this. My first impression was of some clumsy
quadruped with lowered head. Then I per-
ceived it was the slender pinched body and
short and extremely attenuated bandy legs of
a Selenite, with his head depressed between his
shoulders. He was without the helmet and
body covering they wear upon the exterior.
He was a blank, black figure to us, but in-
stinctively our imaginations supplied features
to his very human outline. I, at least, took it
instantly that he was somewhat hunchbacked,
with a high forehead and long features.
He came forward three steps and paused for
a time. His movements seemed absolutely
noiseless. Then he came forward again. He
walked like a bird, his feet fell one in front of
the other. He stepped out of the ray of light
that came through the doorway, and it seemed
as though he vanished altogether in the shadow.
For a moment my eyes sought him in the
wrong place, and then I perceived him standing
facing us both in the full light. Only the
human features I had attributed to him were
not there at all !
" There the thing was, looking at us
THE SELENITE'S FACE 137
Of course I ought to have expected that,
only I didn't. It came to me as an absolute,
for a moment an overwhelming, shock. It
seemed as though it wasn't a face, as though
it must needs be a mask, a horror, a deformity,
that would presently be disavowed or explained.
There was no nose, and the thing had dull
bulging eyes at the side — in the silhouette I
had supposed they were ears. There were no
ears. ... I have tried to draw one of these
heads, but I cannot. There was a mouth,
downwardly curved, like a human mouth in a
face that stares ferociously. . . .
The neck on which the head was poised was
jointed in three places, almost like the short
joints in the leg of a crab. The joints of the
limbs I could not see, because of the puttee-
like straps in which they were swathed, and
which formed the only clothing the being wore.
There the thing was, looking at us !
At the time my mind was taken up by the
mad impossibility of the creature. I suppose
he also was amazed, and with more reason,
perhaps, for amazement than we. Only, con-
found him ! he did not show it. We did at
least knov; what had brought about this meet-
ing of incompatible creatures. But conceive
how it would seem to decent Londoners, for
138 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
example, to come upon a couple of living
things, as big as men and absolutely unlike
any other earthly animals, careering about
among the sheep in Hyde Park! It must
have taken him like that.
Figure us ! We were bound hand and foot,
fagged and filthy ; our beards two inches long,
our faces scratched and bloody. Cavor you
must imagine in his knickerbockers (torn in
several places by the bayonet scrub), his Jaeger
shirt and old cricket cap, his wiry hair wildly
disordered, a tail to every quarter of the
heavens. In that blue light his face did not
look red but very dark, his lips and the drying
blood upon my hands seemed black. If pos-
sible I was in a worse plight than he, on
account of the yellow fungus into which I had
jumped. Our jackets were unbuttoned, and
our shoes had been taken off and lay at our
feet. And we were sitting with our backs to
this queer bluish light, peering at such a
monster as Durer might have invented.
Cavor broke the silence ; started to speak,
went hoarse, and cleared his throat. Outside
began a terrific bellowing, as if a mooncalf
were in trouble. It ended in a shriek, and
everything was still again.
Presently the Selenite turned about, flickered
THE SELENITE'S FACE 139
into the shadow, stood for a moment retro-
spective at the door, and then closed it
on us ; and once more we were in that mur-
murous mystery of darkness into which we
MR. CAVOR MAKES SOME SUGGESTIONS
For a time neither of us spoke. To focus
together all the things we had brought upon
ourselves, seemed beyond my mental powers.
" They've got us," I said at last.
"It was that fungus."
" Well — if I hadn't taken it we should have
fainted and starved."
" We might have found the sphere."
I lost my temper at his persistence, and
swore to myself. For a time we hated one
another in silence. I drummed with my
fingers on the floor between my knees, and
gritted the links of my fetters together. Pre-
sently I was forced to talk again.
" What do you make of it, anyhow ? " I asked
" They are reasonable creatures — they can
make things and do things — Those lights
we saw . . ."
He stopped. It was clear he could make
nothing of it.
MR. CAVOR MAKES SUGGESTIONS 141
When he spoke again it was to confess,
" After all, they are more human than v^^e had
a right to expect. I suppose "
He stopped irritatingly.
" I suppose, anyhow — on any planet where
there is an intelligent animal — it will carry its
brain case upward, and have hands, and walk
Presently he broke away in another direction.
"We are some way in," he said. ** I mean
— perhaps a couple of thousand feet or more."
*' Why ? "
** It's cooler. And our voices are so much
louder. That faded quality — it has altogether
gone. And the feeling in one's ears and
I had not noted that, but I did now.
**The air is denser. We must be some
depth — a mile even, we may be — inside the
**We never thought of a world inside the
"How could we?"
" We might have done. Only — One gets
into habits of mind."
He thought for a time.
142 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
'' JVow" he said, **it seems such an obvious
" Of course ! The moon must be enormously
cavernous, with an atmosphere within, and at
the centre of its caverns a sea.
'* One knew that the moon had a lower specific
gravity than the earth, one knew that it had little
air or water outside, one knew, too, that it was
sister planet to the earth, and that it was un-
accountable that it should be different In com-
position. The inference that it was hollowed
out was as clear as day. And yet one never
saw it as a fact. Kepler, of course "
His voice had the interest now of a man who
has discovered a pretty sequence of reasoning.
" Yes," he said, '* Kepler with his sub-volvani
was right after all."
*' I wish you had taken the trouble to find
that out before we came," I said.
He answered nothing, buzzing to himself
softly as he pursued his thoughts. My temper
was going. '* What do you think has become
of the sphere, anyhow 1 " I asked.
'* Lost," he said, like a man who ansv/ers an
" Among those plants ? "
" Unless they find it."
MR, CAVOR MAKES SUGGESTIONS 143
" How can I tell ? "
** Cavor," I said, with a sort of hysterical
bitterness, "things look bright for my Com-
pany. . . ."
He made no answer.
**Good Lord!" I exclaimed. ** Just think of
all the trouble we took to get into this pickle !
What did we come for ? What are we after ?
What was the moon to us or we to the moon ?
We wanted too much, we tried too much. We
ought to have started the little things first. It
was you proposed the moon ! Those Cavorite
spring blinds ! I am certain we could have
worked them for terrestrial purposes. Certain !
Did you really understand what I proposed ?
A steel cylinder — - — "
** Rubbish ! " said Cavor.
We ceased to converse.
For a time Cavor kept up a broken mono-
logue without much help from me.
** If they find it," he began, **if they find it
. . . what will they do with it ? Well, that's a
question. It may be that's ^/le question. They
won't understand it, anyhow. If they under-
stood that sort of thing they would have come
long since to the earth. Would they ? Why
shouldn't they? But they would have sent
something — They couldn't keep their hands
144 T^HE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
off such a possibility. No ! But they will
examine it. Clearly they are intelligent and
inquisitive. They will examine it — get inside
It — trifle with the studs. Off! . . . That
would mean the moon for us for all the rest
of our lives. Strange creatures, strange know-
*' As for strange knowledge — " said I, and
language failed me.
''Look here, Bedford," said Cavor, "you
came on this expedition of your own free will."
*' You said to me, * Call it prospecting.' "
** There's always risks in prospecting."
" Especially when you do it unarmed and
without thinking out every possibility."
*' I was so taken up with the sphere. The
thing rushed on us, and carried us away."
** Rushed on me, you mean."
" Rushed on me just as much. How was /
to know when I set to work on molecular
physics that the business would bring me here
— of all places ? "
" It's this accursed science," I cried. ''It's the
very Devil. The mediaeval priests and perse-
cutors were right and the Moderns are all wrong.
You tamper with it — and it offers you gifts.
And directly you take them it knocks you to
pieces in some unexpected way. Old passions
MR, CAVOR MAKES SUGGESTIONS 145
and new weapons — now it upsets your religion,
now it upsets your social ideas, now it whirls
you off to desolation and misery ! "
'* Anyhow, it's no use your quarrelling with
me now. These creatures — these Selenites, or
whatever we choose to call them — have got us
tied hand and foot. Whatever temper you
choose to go through with it in, you will
have to go through with it. . . . We have
experiences before us that will need all our
He paused as if he required my assent. But
I sat sulking. ** Confound your science ! " I
** The problem is communication. Gestures,
I fear, will be different. Pointing, for example.
No creatures but men and monkeys point."
That was too obviously wrong for me.
"Pretty nearly every animal," J cried, "points
with its eyes or nose."
Cavor meditated over that. "Yes," he said
at last, " and we don't. There's such differ-
ences — such differences !
" One might ... But how can I tell ?
There is speech. The sounds they make, a
sort of fluting and piping. I don't see how we
are to imitate that. Is it their speech, that
sort of thing ? They may have different senses,
146 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
different means of communication. Of course
they are minds and we are minds ; there must
be something in common. Who knows how far
we may not get to an understanding ? "
** The things are outside us," I said.
** They're more different from us than the
strangest animals on earth. They are a dif-
ferent clay. What is the good of talking like
Cavor thought. " I don't see that. Where
there are minds they will have something
similar — even though they have been evolved
on different planets. Of course if it was a
question of instincts, if we or they are no more
than animals "
" Well, are they ? They're much more like
ants on their hind legs than human beings, and
who ever got to any sort of understanding with
ants .? "
"But these machines and clothing ! No, I
don't hold with you, Bedford. The difference
is wide "
** It's insurmountable."
*' The resemblance must bridge it. I re-
member reading once a paper by the late
Professor Galton on the possibility of commu-
nication between the planets. Unhappily, at
that time it did not seem probable that that
MR, CAVOR MAKES SUGGESTIONS 147
would be of any material benefit to me, and I
fear I did not give it the attention I should
have done — in view of this state of affairs.
Yet . . . Now, let me see !
** His idea was to begin with those broad
truths that must underlie all conceivable mental
existences and establish a basis on those. The
great principles of geometry, to begin with.
He proposed to take some leading proposition
of Euclid's, and show by construction that its
truth was known to us, to demonstrate, for
example, that the angles at the base of an
isosceles triangle are equal, and that if the
equal sides be produced the angles on the
other side of the base are equal also, or that
the square on the hypotenuse of a right-angled
triangle is equal to the sum of the squares on
the two other sides. By demonstrating our
knowledge of these things we should demon-
strate our possession of a reasonable intelli-
gence. . . . Now, suppose I ... I might draw
the geometrical figure with a wet finger, or
even trace it in the air . . ."
He fell silent. I sat meditating his words.
For a time his wild hope of communication, of
interpretation, with these weird beings held me.
Then that angry despair that was a part of my
exhaustion and physical misery resumed its
148 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
sway. I perceived with a sudden novel vivid-
ness the extraordinary folly of everything I had
ever done. " Ass ! " I said ; '' oh, ass, unutter-
able ass ... I seem to exist only to go about
doing preposterous things. . . . Why did we
ever leave the thing? . . . Hopping about
looking for patents and concessions in the
craters of the moon ! ... If only we had had
the sense to fasten a handkerchief to a stick
to show where we had left the sphere ! "
I subsided, fuming.
"It is clear," meditated Cavor, "they are
intelligent. One can hypotheticate certain
things. As they have not killed us at once,
they must have ideas of mercy. Mercy! at
any rate of restraint. Possibly of intercourse.
They may meet us. And this apartment and
the glimpses we had of its guardian. These
fetters ! A high degree of intelligence ..."
" I wish to heaven," cried I, " I'd thought
even twice ! Plunge after plunge. First one
fluky start and then another. It was my con-
fidence in you ! JVky didn't I stick to my
play? That was what I was equal to. That
was my world and the life I was made for. I
could have finished that play. I'm certain . . .
it was a good play. I had the scenario as good
as done. Then . . . Conceive it ! leaping to
MR. CAVOR MAKES SUGGESTIONS 149
the moon ! Practically — I've thrown my life
away ! That old woman in the inn near Can-
terbury had better sense."
I looked up, and stopped in mid-sentence.
The darkness had given place to that bluish
light again. The door was opening, and seve-
ral noiseless Selenites were coming into the
chamber. I became quite still, staring at their
Then suddenly my sense of disagreeable
strangeness changed to interest. I perceived
that the foremost and second carried bowls.
One elemental need at least our minds could
understand in common. They were bowls of
some metal that, like our fetters, looked dark
in that bluish light ; and each contained a
number of whitish fragments. All the cloudy
pain and misery that oppressed me rushed
together and took the shape of hunger. I eyed
these bowls wolfishly, and, though it returned
to me in dreams, at that time it seemed a small
matter that at the end of the arms that lowered
one towards me were not hands, but a sort of
flap and thumb, like the end of an elephant's
The stuff in the bowl was loose in texture,
and whitish brown in colour — rather like lumps
of some cold souffle, and it smelt faintly like
150 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
mushrooms. From a partially divided carcass
of a mooncalf that we presently saw, I am in-
clined to believe it must have been mooncalf
My hands were so tightly chained that I
could barely contrive to reach the bowl ; but
when they saw the effort I made, two of them
dexterously released one of the turns about
my wrist. Their tentacle hands were soft and
cold to my skin. I immediately seized a
mouthful of the food. It had the same laxness
in texture that all organic structures seem to
have upon the moon ; it tasted rather like a
gauffre or a damp meringue, but in no way
was it disagreeable. I took two other mouth-
fuls. ** I wanted — foo' ! " said I, tearing off a
still larger piece. . * .
For a time we ate with an utter absence of
self-consciousness. We ate and presently drank
like tramps in a soup kitchen. Never before
nor since have I been hungry to the ravenous
pitch, and save that I have had this very ex-
perience I could never have believed that, a
quarter of a million of miles out of our proper
world, in utter perplexity of soul, surrounded,
watched, touched by beings more grotesque
and inhuman than the worst creations of a
nightmare, it would be possible for me to eat
MR, CAVOR MAKES SUGGESTIONS 151
in utter forgetfulness of all these things. They
stood about us watching us, and ever and again
making a slight elusive twittering that stood
them, I suppose, in the stead of speech^ I did
not even shiver at their touch. And when the
first zeal of my feeding was over, I could note
that Cavor, too, had been eating with the same
EXPERIMENTS IN INTERCOURSE
When at last we had made an end of eating,
the Selenites Hnked our hands closely together
again, and then untwisted the chains about our
feet and rebound them, so as to give us a
limited freedom of movement. Then they
unfastened the chains about our waists. To
do all this they had to handle us freely, and
ever and again one of their queer heads came
down close to my face, or a soft tentacle-
hand touched my head or neck. I don't re-
member that I was afraid then or repelled by
their proximity. I think that our incurable
anthropomorphism made us imagine there were
human heads inside their masks. The skin,
like everything else, looked bluish, but that
was on account of the light ; and it was hard
and shiny, quite in the beetle-wing fashion,
not soft, or moist, or hairy, as a vertebrated
animal's would be. Along the crest of the
head was a low ridge of whitish spines run-
EXPERIMENTS IN INTERCOURSE 153
ning from back to front, and a much larger
ridge curved on either side over the eyes.
The Selenite who untied me used his mouth
to help his hands.
'' They seem to be releasing us," said Cavor.
** Remember we are on the moon ! Make no
sudden m^ovements ! "
*' Are you going to try that geometry ? "
** If I get a chance. But, of course, they
may make an advance first."
We remained passive, and the Selenites,
having finished their arrangements, stood back
from us, and seemed to be looking at us. I
say seemed to be, because as their eyes were
at the side and not in front, one had the same
difficulty in determining the direction in which
they were looking as one has in the case of a
hen or a fish. They conversed with one an-
other in their reedy tones, that seemed to me
impossible to imitate or define. The door
behind us opened wider, and, glancing over
my shoulder, I saw a vague large space be-
yond, in which quite a little crowd of Selen-
ites were standing. They seemed a curiously
*' Do they want us to imitate those sounds ?"
I asked Cavor.
" I don't think so," he said.
154 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
** It seems to me that they are trying to
make us understand something."
*' I can't make anything of their gestures.
Do you notice this one, who is worrying with
his head hke a man with an uncomfortable
collar ? "
** Let us shake our heads at him."
We did that, and finding it ineffectual, at-
tempted an imitation of the Selenites' move-
ments. That seemed to interest them. At
any rate they all set up the same movement.
But as that seemed to lead to nothing, we
desisted at last and so did they, and fell into a
piping argument among themselves. Then one
of them, shorter and very much thicker than
the others, and with a particularly wide mouth,
squatted down suddenly beside Cavor, and put
his hands and feet in the same posture as
Cavor's were bound, and then by a dexterous
movement stood up.
"Cavor," I shouted, "they want us to
get up ! "
He stared open .- mouthed. "That's it!"
And with much heaving and grunting, be-
cause our hands were tied together, we contrived
to struggle to our feet. The Selenites made
way for our elephantine heavings, and seemed
EXPERIMENTS IN INTERCOURSE 155
to twitter more volubly. As soon as we were
on our feet the thick-set Selenite came and
patted each of our faces with his tentacles,
and walked towards the open doorway. That
also was plain enough, and we followed him.
We saw that four of the Selenites standing in
the doorway were much taller than the others,
and clothed in the same manner as those we
had seen in the crater, namely, with spiked
round helmets and cylindrical body-cases, and
that each of the four carried a goad with spike
and guard made of that same dull - looking
metal as the bowls. These four closed about
us, one on either side of each of us, as we
emerged from our chamber into the cavern
from which the light had come.
We did not get our impression of that cavern
all at once. Our attention was taken up by
the movements and attitudes of the Selenites
immediately about us, and by the necessity of
controlling our motion, lest we should startle
and alarm them and ourselves by some ex-
cessive stride. In front of us was the short,
thick-set being who had solved the problem
of asking us to get up, moving with gestures
that seemed, almost all of them, intelligible
to us, inviting us to follow him. His spout-
like face turned from one of us to the other
iS6 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
with a quickness that was clearly interrogative.
For a time, I say, we were taken up with these
But at last the great place that formed a
background to our movements asserted itself.
It became apparent that the source of much,
at least, of the tumult of sounds which had
filled our ears ever since we had recovered
from the stupefaction of the fungus was a vast
mass of machinery in active movement, whose
flying and whirling parts were visible indis-
tinctly over the heads and between the bodies
of the Selenites who walked about us. And
not only did the web of sounds that filled the
air proceed from this mechanism, but also
the peculiar blue light that irradiated the whole
place. We had taken it as a natural thing that
a subterranean cavern should be artificially lit,
and even now, though the fact was patent to
my eyes, I did not really grasp its import until
presently the darkness came. The meaning
and structure of this huge apparatus we saw
I cannot explain, because we neither of us
learnt what it was for or how it worked. One
after another, big shafts of metal flung out
and up from its centre, their heads travelling
in what seemed to me to be a parabolic path ;
each dropped a sort of dangling arm as it rose
EXPERIMENTS IN INTERCOURSE 157
towards the apex of its flight and plunged
down into a vertical cylinder, forcing this down
before it. About it moved the shapes of
tenders, little figures that seemed vaguely-
different from the beings about us. As each
of the three dangling arms of the machine
plunged down, there was a clank and then
a roaring, and out of the top of the vertical
cylinder came pouring this incandescent sub-
stance that lit the place, and ran over as milk
runs over a boiling pot, and dripped luminously
into a tank of light below. It was a cold blue
light, a sort of phosphorescent glow but in-
finitely brighter, and from the tanks into which
it fell it ran in conduits athwart the cavern.
Thud, thud, thud, thud, came the sweeping
arms of this unintelligible apparatus, and the
light substance hissed and poured. At first
the thing seemed only reasonably large and
near to us, and then I saw how exceedingly
little the Selenites upon it seemed, and I
realised the full immensity of cavern and
machine. I looked from this tremendous
affair to the faces of the Selenites with a new
respect. I stopped, and Cavor stopped, and
stared at this thunderous engine.
" But this is stupendous ! " I said. '' What
can it be for ? "
iS8 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
Cavor s blue-lit face was full of an intelli-
gent respect. ** I can't dream ! Surely these
beings — Men could not make a thing like
that ! Look at those arms, are they on
connecting rods ? "
The thick-set Selenite had gone some paces
unheeded. He came back and stood between
us and the great machine. I avoided seeing
him, because I guessed somehow that his idea
was to beckon us onward. He walked away
in the direction he wished us to go, and turned
and came back, and flicked our faces to attract
Cavor and I looked at one another.
*' Cannot we show him we are interested in
the machine.'*" I said.
**Yes," said Cavor. "We'll try that." He
turned to our guide and smiled, and pointed to
the machine, and pointed again, and then to
his head, and then to the machine. By some
defect of reasoning he seemed to imagine that
broken English might help these gestures.
"Me look 'im," he said, "me think 'im very
His behaviour seemed to check the Selenites
in their desire for our progress for a moment.
They faced one another, their queer heads
moved, the twittering voices came quick and
EXPERIMENTS IN INTERCOURSE 159
liquid. Then one of them, a lean, tall creature,
with a sort of mantle added to the puttee in
which the others were dressed, twisted his
elephant trunk of a hand about Cavor's waist,
and pulled him gently to follow our guide, who
again went on ahead.
Cavor resisted. ** We may just as well begin
explaining ourselves now. They may think we
are new animals, a new sort of mooncalf per-
haps ! It is most important that we should
show an intelligent interest from the outset."
He began to shake his head violently. ** No,
no," he said, " me not come on one minute.
Me look at 'im."
** Isn't there some geometrical point you
might bring in apropos of that affair ? " I sug-
gested, as the Selenites conferred again.
** Possibly a parabolic — " he began.
He yelled loudly, and leaped six feet or
One of the four armed moon-men had pricked
him with a goad !
I turned on the goad-bearer behind me with a
swift threatening gesture, and he started back.
This and Cavor's sudden shout and leap clearly
astonished all the Selenites. They receded
hastily, facing us. For one of those moments
that seem to last for ever, we stood in angry
i6o THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
protest, with a scattered semicircle of these in-
human beings about us.
"He pricked me ! " said Cavor, with a catch-
ing of the voice.
** I saw him," I answered.
" Confound it ! " I said to the Selenites ;
** we're not going to stand that! What on
earth do you take us for ? "
I glanced quickly right and left. Far away
across the blue wilderness of cavern I saw a
number of other Selenites running towards us ;
broad and slender they were, and one with a
larger head than the others. The cavern spread
wide and low, and receded in every direction
into darkness. Its roof, I remember, seemed
to bulge down as if with the weight of the vast
thickness of rocks that prisoned us. There was
no way out of it — no way out of it. Above,
below, in every direction, was the unknown,
and these inhuman creatures, with goads and
gestures, confronting us, and we two unsup-
THE GIDDY BRIDGE
Just for a moment that hostile pause endured.
I suppose that both we and the Selenites did
some very rapid thinking. My clearest im-
pression was that there was nothing to put my
back against, and that we were bound to be
surrounded and killed. The overwhelming
folly of our presence there loomed over me
in black, enormous reproach. Why had I
ever launched myself on this mad, inhuman
Cavor came to my side and laid his hand
on my arm. His pale and terrified face was
ghastly in the blue light.
'* We can't do anything," he said. ** It's a
mistake. They don't understand. We must
go. As they want us to go."
I looked down at him, and then at the fresh
Selenites who were coming to help their fel-
lows. ** If I had my hands free — — "
"It's no use," he panted.
1 62 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
And he turned about and led the way in the
direction that had been indicated for us.
I followed, trying to look as subdued as pos-
sible, and feeling at the chains about my wrists.
My blood was boiling. I noted nothing more
of that cavern, though it seemed to take a long
time before we had marched across it, or if I
noted anything I forgot it as I saw it. My
thoughts were concentrated, I think, upon my
chains and the Selenites, and particularly upon
the helmeted ones with the goads. At first
they marched parallel with us, and at a respect-
ful distance, but presently they were overtaken
by three others, and then they drew nearer,
until they were within arm's length again. I
winced like a beaten horse as they came near
to us. The shorter, thicker Selenite marched
at first on our right flank, but presently came
in front of us again.
How well the picture of that grouping has
bitten into my brain ; the back of Cavor's
downcast head just in front of me, and the
dejected droop of his shoulders, and our guide's
gaping visage, perpetually jerking about him,
and the goad-bearers on either side, watchful,
yet open-mouthed — a blue monochrome. And,
THE GIDDY BRIDGE 163
after all, I do remember one other thing besides
the purely personal affair, which is, that a sort
of gutter came presently across the floor of the
cavern, and then ran along by the side of the
path of rock we followed. And it was full of
that same bright blue luminous stuff that flowed
out of the great machine. I walked close be-
side it, and I can testify it radiated not a par-
ticle of heat. It was brightly shining, and yet
it was neither warmer nor colder than anything
else in the cavern.
Clang, clang, clang, we passed right under
the thumping levers of another vast machine,
and so came at last to a wide tunnel, in which
we could even hear the pad, pad of our shoeless
feet, and which, save for the trickling thread of
blue to the right of us, was quite unlit. The
shadows made gigantic travesties of our shapes
and those of the Selenites on the irregular wall
and roof of the tunnel. Ever and again crystals
in the walls of the tunnel scintillated like gems,
ever and again the tunnel expanded into a
stalactitic cavern, or gave off branches that
vanished into darkness.
We seemed to be marching down that tunnel
for a long time. ** Trickle, trickle," went the
flowing light very softly, and our footfalls and
their echoes made an Irregular paddle, paddle.
i64 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
My mind settled down to the question of my
chains. If I were to slip off one turn so, and
then to twist it ^^ . . .
If I tried to do it very gradually, would they
see I was slipping my wrist out of the looser
turn ? If they did, what would they do ?
*' Bedford," said Cavor, ** it goes down. It
keeps on going down."
His remark roused me from my sullen pre-
** If they wanted to kill us," he said, dropping
back to come level with me, ** there is no reason
why they should not have done it."
*'No," I admitted, ''that's true."
*' They don't understand us," he said, " they
think we are merely strange animals, some
wild sort of mooncalf birth, perhaps. It
will be only when they have observed us
better that they will begin to think we have
'* When you trace those geometrical prob-
lems," said I.
" It may be that."
We tramped on for a space.
"You see," said Cg-vor, "these may be
Selenites of a lower class."
** The infernal fools ! " said I viciously,
glancing at their exasperating faces.
THE GIDDY BRIDGE 165
"If we endure what they do to us "
"WeVe got to endure it," said I.
" There may be others less stupid. This
Is the mere outer fringe of their world. It
must go down and down, cavern, passage,
tunnel, down at last to the sea — hundreds of
His words made me think of the miile or so
of rock and tunnel that might be over our heads
already. It was like a weight dropping on my
shoulders. "Away from the sun and air," I
said. " Even a mine half a mile deep is stuffy."
*' This is not, anyhow. It's probable —
Ventilation ! The air would blow from the
dark side of the moon to the sunlit, and all
the carbonic acid would well out there and
feed those plants. Up this tunnel, for example,
there is quite a breeze. And what a world it
must be. The earnest we have in that shaft,
and those machines "
" And the goad," I said. " Don't forget the
goad ! "
He walked a little in front of me for a time.
** Even that goad — " he said.
" Well ? "
" I was angry at the time. But — It was
perhaps necessary we should get on. They
have different skins, and probably different
i66 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
nerves. They may not understand our objec-
tion — Just as a being from Mars might not
like our earthly habit of nudging "
** They'd better be careful how they nudge
** And about that geometry. After all, their
way is a way of understanding, too. They
begin with the elements of life and not of
thought. Food. Compulsion. Pain. They
strike at fundamentals."
** There's no doubt about ^^af/' I said.
He went on to talk of the enormous and
wonderful world into which we were being
taken. I realised slowly from his tone, that
even now he was not absolutely in despair at
the prospect of going ever deeper into this
inhuman planet - burrow. His mind ran on
machines and invention, to the exclusion of a
thousand dark things that beset me. It wasn't
that he intended to make any use of these
things, he simply wanted to know them.
** After all," he said, ** this is a tremendous
occasion. It is the meeting of two worlds !
What are we going to see? Think of what
is below us here."
** We shan't see much if the light isn't
better," I remarked.
" This is only the outer crust. Down
THE GIDDY BRIDGE 167
below— On this scale — There will be every-
thing. Do you notice how different they seem
one from another ? The story we shall take
back ! "
" Some rare sort of animal," I said, ** might
comfort himself in that way while they were
bringing him to the Zoo. . . . It doesn't follow
that we are going to be shown all these things."
** When they find we have reasonable minds,"
said Cavor, '' they will want to learn about the
earth. Even if they have no generous emo-
tions, they will teach in order to learn. . . .
And the things they must know ! The unanti-
cipated things ! "
He went on to speculate on the possibility
of their knowing things he had never hoped
to learn on earth, speculating in that way, with
a raw wound from that goad already in his
skin ! Much that he said I forget, for my
attention was drawn to the fact that the tunnel
along which we had been marching was open-
ing out wider and wider. We seemed, from
the feeling of the air, to be going out into a
huge space. But how big the space might
really be we could not tell, because it was unlit.
Our little stream of light ran in a dwind-
ling thread and vanished far ahead. Presently
the rocky walls had vanished altogether on
i68 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
either hand. There was nothing to be seen
but the path in front of us and the trickling,
hurrying rivulet of blue phosphorescence. The
figures of Cavor and the guiding Selenite
marched before me, the sides of their legs and
heads that were towards the rivulet were clear
and bright blue, their darkened sides, now that
the reflection of the tunnel wall no longer lit
them, merged indistinguishably in the darkness
And soon I perceived that we were approach-
ing a declivity of some sort, because the little
blue stream dipped suddenly out of sight.
In another moment, as it seemed, we had
reached the edge. The shining stream gave
one meander of hesitation and then rushed
over. It fell to a depth at which the sound
of its descent was absolutely lost to us. Far
below was a bluish glow, a sort of blue mist —
at an infinite distance below. And the dark-
ness the stream dropped out of became ut-
terly void and black, save that a thing like a
plank projected from the edge of the cliff and
stretched out and faded and vanished alto-
gether. There was a warm air blowing up out
of the gulf.
For a moment I and Cavor stood as near
the edge as we dared, peering into a blue-
THE GIDDY BRIDGE 169
tinged profundity. And then our guide was
pulling at my arm.
Then he left me, and walked to the end of
that plank and stepped upon it, looking back.
Then when he perceived we watched him, he
turned about and went on along it, walking
as surely as though he was on firm earth. For
a moment his form was distinct, then he be-
came a blue blur, and then vanished into the
obscurity. I became aware of some vague
shape looming darkly out of the black.
There was a pause. " Surely — ! " said
One of the other Selenites walked a few
paces out upon the plank, and turned and
looked back at us unconcernedly. The others
stood ready to follow after us. Our guide s
expectant figure reappeared. He was return-
ing to see why we had not advanced.
" What is that beyond there ? " I asked.
" I can't see."
" We can't cross this at any price," said I.
** I could not go three steps on it," said
Cavor, " even with my hands free."
We looked at each other's drawn faces in
"They can't know what it is to be giddy!"
I70 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
" It's quite impossible for us to walk that
** I don't believe they see as we do. IVe
been watching them. I wonder if they know
this is simply blackness for us. How can
we make them understand?"
" Anyhow, we must make them understand."
I think we said these things with a vague
half hope the Selenites might somehow under-
stand. I knew quite clearly that all that was
needed was an explanation. Then as I saw
their faces, I realised that an explanation was
impossible. Just here it was that our re-
semblances were not going to bridge our
differences. Well, I wasn't going to walk
the plank, anyhow. I slipped my wrist very
quickly out of the coil of chain that was loose,
and then began to twist my wrists in opposite
directions. I was standing nearest to the
bridge, and as I did this two of the Selen-
ites laid hold of me, and pulled me gently
I shook my head violently. " No go," I
said, " no use. You don't understand."
Another Selenite added his compulsion. I
was forced to step forward.
" I've got an idea," said Cavor ; but I knew
THE GIDDY BRIDGE 171
" Look here ! " I exclaimed to the Selenites.
'* Steady on ! It's all very well for you "
I sprang round upon my heel. I burst out
into curses. For one of the armed Selenites
had stabbed me behind with his goad.
I wrenched my wrists free from the little
tentacles that held them. I turned on the
goad-bearer. ** Confound you ! " I cried. ** I've
warned you of that. What on earth do you
think I'm made of, to stick that into me? If
you touch me again ! "
By way of answer he pricked me forthwith.
I heard Cavor's voice in alarm and entreaty.
Even then I think he wanted to compromise
with these creatures. ** I say, Bedford," he
cried, *' I know a way ! " But the sting of that
second stab sdemed to set free some pent-up
reserve of energy in my being. Instantly the
link of the wrist-chain snapped, and with it
snapped all considerations that had held us
unresisting in the hands of these moon crea-
tures. For that second, at least, I was mad
with fear and anger. I took no thought of
consequences. I hit straight out at the face
of the thing with the goad. The chain was
twisted round my fist. . . .
There came another of these beastly sur-
prises of which the moon world is full.
172 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
My mailed hand seemed to go clean through
him. He smashed like — like some softish sort
of sweet with liquid in it ! He broke right
in ! He squelched and splashed. It was like
hitting a damp toadstool. The flimsy body
went spinning a dozen yards, and fell with
a flabby impact. I was astonished. I was
incredulous that any living thing could be so
flimsy. For an instant I could have believed
the whole thing a dream.
Then it had become real and imminent again.
Neither Cavor nor the other Selenites seemed
to have done anything from the time when I
had turned about to the time when the dead
Selenite hit the ground. Every one stood
back from us two, every one alert. That
arrest seemed to last at least a second after
the Selenite was down. Every one must have
been taking the thing in. I seem to remember
myself standing with my arm half retracted,
trying also to take it in. ''What next.f^"
clamoured my brain ; *' what next ? " Then
in a moment every one was moving !
I perceived we must get our chains loose,
and that before we could do this these Selen-
ites had to be beaten off. I faced towards the
group of the three goad - bearers. Instantly
one threw his goad at me. It swished over
THE GIDDY BRIDGE 173
my head, and I suppose went flying into the
I leaped right at him with all my might as
the goad flew over me. He turned to run
as I jumped, and I bore him to the ground,
came down right upon him, and slipped upon
his smashed body and fell. He seemed to
wriggle under my foot.
I came into a sitting position, and on every
hand the blue backs of the Selenites were
receding into the darkness. I bent a link by
main force and untwisted the chain that had
hampered me about the ankles, and sprang to
my feet, with the chain in my hand. Another
goad, flung javelin-wise, whistled by me, and
I made a rush towards the darkness out of
which it had come. Then I turned back
towards Cavor, who was still standing in the
light of the rivulet near the gulf convulsively
busy with his wrists, and at the same time
jabbering nonsense about his idea,
'' Come on ! " I cried.
'* My hands ! " he answered.
Then, realising that I dared not run back to
him, because my ill-calculated steps might carry
me over the edge, he came shuffling towards
me, with his hands held out before him.
I gripped his chains at once to unfasten them.
174 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
" Where are they ? " he panted.
** Run away. They'll come back. They're
throwing things ! Which way shall we go ? "
*' By the light. To that tunnel. Eh ? "
** Yes/' said I, and his hands were free.
I dropped on my knees and fell to work on
his ankle bonds. Whack came something —
I know not what — and splashed the livid
streamlet into drops about us. Far away on
our right a piping and whistling began.
I whipped the chain off his feet, and put
it in his hand. ** Hit with that!" I said, and
without waiting for an answer, set off in big
bounds along the path by v/hich we had come.
I had a nasty sort of feeling that these things
could jump out of the darkness on to my back.
I heard the impact of his leaps come following
We ran in vast strides. But that running,
you must understand, was an altogether dif-
ferent thing from any running on earth. On
earth one leaps and almost instantly hits the
ground again, but on the moon, because of
its weaker pull, one shot through the air for
several seconds before one came to earth. In
spite of our violent hurry this gave an effect
of long pauses, pauses in which one might
have counted seven or eight. " Step," and one
THE GIDDY BRIDGE 175
soared off! All sorts of questions ran through
my mind : ** Where are the Selenites ? What
will they do ? Shall we ever get to that tunnel ?
Is Cavor far behind ? Are they likely to cut
him off?" Then whack, stride, and off again
for another step.
I saw a Selenite running in front of me, his
legs going exactly as a man's would go on
earth, saw him glance over his shoulder, and
heard him shriek as he ran aside out of my
way into the darkness. He was, I think, our
guide, but I am not sure. Then in another
vast stride the walls of rock had come into
view on either hand, and in two more strides
I was in the tunnel, and tempering my pace
to its low roof. I went on to a bend, then
stopped and turned back, and plug, plug, plug,
Cavor came into view, splashing into the stream
of blue light at every stride, and grew larger
and blundered into me. We stood clutching
each other. For a moment, at least, we had
shaken off our captors and were alone.
We were both very much out of breath.
We spoke in panting, broken sentences.
" You've spoilt it all ! " panted Cavor.
*' Nonsense," I cried. ** It was that or
death ! "
" What are we to do ? "
176 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
" Hide. "
" How can we ? "
"It's dark enough."
" But where ? "
'' Up one of these side caverns."
'' And then ? "
*' Right — come on."
We strode on, and presently came to a
radiating dark cavern. Cavor was in front.
He hesitated, and chose a black mouth that
seemed to promise good hiding. He went
towards it and turned.
" It's dark," he said.
*' Your legs and feet will light us. YouVe
wet with that luminous stuff."
" But "
A tumult of sounds, and in particular a
sound like a clanging gong, advancing up the
main tunnel, became audible. It was horribly
suggestive of a tumultuous pursuit. We made
a bolt for the unlit side cavern forthwith. As
we ran along it our way was lit by the irradia-
tion of Cavor's legs. " It's lucky," I panted,
" they took off our boots, or we should fill this
place with clatter." On we rushed, taking as
small steps as we could to avoid striking the
roof of the cavern. After a time we seemed
" Bedford," he whispered, " there's a sort of Hght in front of us
THE GIDDY BRIDGE 177
to be gaining on the uproar. It became
muffled, it dwindled, it died away.
I stopped and looked back, and I heard
the pad, pad of Cavor's feet receding. Then
he stopped also. '* Bedford," he whispered ;
** there's a sort of light in front of us."
I looked, and at first could see nothing.
Then I perceived his head and shoulders
dimly outlined against a fainter darkness. I
saw, also, that this mitigation of the darkness
was not blue, as all the other light within the
moon had been, but a pallid grey, a very vague,
faint white, the daylight colour. Cavor noted
this difference as soon or sooner than J did,
and I think, too, that it filled him with n u^^h
the same wild hope.
" Bedford," he whispered, and his voice
trembled. " That light — it is possible "
He did not dare to say the thing he hoped.
Then came a pause. Suddenly I knew by the
sound of his feet that he was striding towards
that pallor. I followed him with a beating
POINTS OF VIEW
The light grew stronger as we advanced. In
a little time it was nearly as strong as the
phosphorescence on Cavor's legs. Our tunnel
was expanding into a cavern, and this new
light was at the farther end of it. I per-
ceived something that set my hopes leaping
"Cavor," I said, "it comes from above! I
am certain it comes from above ! "
He made no answer, but hurried on.
Indisputably it was a grey light, a silvery
In another moment we were beneath it. It
filtered down through a chink in the walls of
the cavern, and as I stared up, drip, came a
drop of water upon my face. I started and
stood aside — drip, fell another drop quite
audibly on the rocky floor.
'' Cavor," I said, " if one of us lifts the other,
he can reach that crack ! "
POINTS OF VIEW 179
*' I'll lift you," he said, and incontinently-
hoisted me as though I was a baby.
I thrust an arm into the crack, and just at
my finger tips found a little ledge by which I
could hold. I could see the white light was
very much brighter now. I pulled myself up
by two fingers with scarcely an effort, though
on earth I weigh twelve stone, reached to a
still higher corner of rock, and so got my
feet on the narrow ledge. I stood up and
searched up the rocks with my fingers ; the
cleft broadened out upwardly. ''It's climb-
able," I said to Cavor. " Can you jump up
to my hand if I hold it down to you ? "
I wedged myself between the sides of the
cleft, rested knee and foot on the ledge, and
extended a hand. I could not see Cavor, but
I could hear the rustle of his movements as he
crouched to spring. Then whack and he was
hanging to my arm — and no heavier than a
kitten 1 I lugged him up until he had a hand
on my ledge, and could release me.
** Confound it ! " I said, " any one could be a
mountaineer on the moon ; " and so set myself
in earnest to the climbing. For a few minutes
I clambered steadily, and then I looked up again.
The cleft opened out steadily, and the light
was brighter. Only ■
i8o THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
It was not daylight after all !
In another moment I could see what it was,
and at the sight I could have beaten my head
against the rocks with disappointment. For I
beheld simply an irregularly sloping open space,
and all over its slanting floor stood a forest of
little club-shaped fungi, each shining gloriously
with that pinkish silvery light. For a moment
I stared at their soft radiance, then sprang for-
ward and upward among them. I plucked up
half-a-dozen and flung them against the rocks,
and then sat down, laughing bitterly, as Cavor's
ruddy face came into view.
** It's phosphorescence again ! " I said. "No
need to hurry. Sit down and make yourself
at home." And as he spluttered over our
disappointment, I began to lob more of these
growths into the cleft.
** I thought it was daylight," he said.
" Daylight ! *' cried I. " Daybreak, sunset,
clouds, and windy skies ! Shall we ever see
such things again ? " -
As I spoke, a little picture of our world
seemed to rise before me, bright and little and
clear, like the background of some old Italian
picture. " The sky that changes, and the sea
that changes, and the hills and the green trees
and the towns and cities shining in the sun.
POINTS OF VIEW i8i
Think of a wet roof at sunset, Cavor ! Think
of the windows of a westward house ! "
He made no answer.
*' Here we are burrowing in this beastly-
world that isn't a world, with its inky ocean
hidden in some abominable blackness below,
and outside that torrid day and that death
stillness of night. And all those things that
are chasing us now, beastly men of leather —
insect men, that come out of a nightmare !
After all, they're right! What business have
we here smashing them and disturbing their
world ? For all we know the whole planet is
up and after us already. In a minute we may
hear them whimpering, and their gongs going.
What are we to do ? Where are we to go ?
Here we are as comfortable as snakes from
Jamrach's loose in a Surbiton villa ! "
"It was your fault," said Cavor.
** My fault ! " I shouted. " Good Lord ! "
" I had an idea ! "
" Curse your ideas ! "
" If we had refused to budge "
" Under these goads ? "
" Yes. They would have carried us ! "
" Over that bridge ? "
**Yes. They must have carried us from
i82 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
*' Vd rather be carried by a fly across a
" Good Heavens ! "
I resumed my destruction of the fungi.
Then suddenly I saw something that struck me
** Cavor," I said, " these chains are of gold ! "
He was thinking intently, with his hands
gripping his cheeks. He turned his head
slowly and stared at me, and when I had re-
peated my words, at the twisted chain about
his right hand. *' So they are," he said, " so
they are." His face lost its transitory interest
even as he looked. He hesitated for a moment,
then went on with his interrupted meditation.
I sat for a space puzzling over the fact that I
had only just observed this, until I considered
the blue light in which we had been, and which
had taken all the colour out of the metal. And
from that discovery I also started upon a train
of thought that carried me wide and far. I
forgot that I had just been asking what busi-
ness we had in the moon. Gold
It was Cavor who spoke first. "It seems
to me that there are two courses open to
" Either we can attempt to make our way —
POINTS OF VIEW 183
fight our way if necessary — out to the exterior
again, and then hunt for our sphere until
we find it, or the cold of the night comes to
kill us, or else "
He paused. " Yes ? " I said, though I knew
what was coming.
" We might attempt once more to establish
some sort of understanding with the minds of
the people in the moon."
" So far as I'm concerned — it's the first."
'' I doubt."
" I don't."
"You see," said Cavor, " I do not think we
can judge the Selenites by what we have seen
of them. Their central world, their civilised
world will be far below in the profounder
caverns about their sea. This region of the
crust in which we are is an outlying district, a
pastoral region. At any rate, that is my inter-
pretation. These Selenites we have seen may
be only the equivalent of cowboys and engine
tenders. Their use of goads — in all proba-
bility mooncalf goads — the lack of imagination
they show in expecting us to be able to do just
what they can do, their indisputable brutality,
all seem to point to something of that sort.
But if we endured "
" Neither of us could endure a six-inch
i84 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
plank across the bottomless pit for very
" No," said Cavor ; ** but then "
" I won'^" I said.
He discovered a new line of possibilities.
" Well, suppose we got ourselves into some
corner, where we could defend ourselves
against these hinds and labourers. If, for
example, we could hold out for a week or so.
It is probable that the news of our appearance
would filter down to the more intelligent and
populous parts "
*' If they exist."
" Thev must exist, or whence came those
tremendous machines ? "
** That's possible, but it's the worst of the
** We might write up inscriptions on walls — "
" How do we know their eyes would see the
sort of marks we made ^ "
" If we cut them "
" That's possible, of course."
I took up a new thread of thought. ** After
all," I said, " I suppose you don't think these
Selenites so infinitely wiser than men."
''They must know a lot more — or at least a
lot of different things."
'' Yes, but — " I hesitated.
POINTS OF VIEW 185
" I think you'll quite admit, Cavor, that you're
rather an exceptional man."
" Well, you — you're a rather lonely man —
have been, that is. You haven't married."
** Never wanted to. But why ? "
" And you never grew richer than you hap-
pened to be ? "
" Never wanted that either."
" Y'"' 've just rooted after knowledge ? "
" Well, a certain curiosity is natural "
** You think so. That's just it. You think
every other mind wants to know, I remember
once, when I asked you why you conducted all
these researches, you said you wanted your
F.R.S., and to have the stuff called Cavorite,
and things like that. You know perfectly well
you didn't do it for that ; but at the time my
question took you by surprise, and you felt you
ought to have something to look like a motive.
Really you conducted researches because you
had to. It's your twist."
" Perhaps it is "
"It isn't one man in a million has that twist.
Most men want — well, various things, but very
few want knowledge for its own sake, /don't,
I know perfectly well. Now, these Selenites
seem to be a driving, busy sort of being, but
i86 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
how do you know that even the most intelli-
gent will take an interest in us or our world ?
I don't believe they'll even know we have a
world. They never come out at night— they'd
freeze if they did. They've probably never
seen any heavenly body at all except the blazing
sun. How are they to know there zs another
world ? What does it matter to them if they
do ? Well, even if they kave had a glimpse of
a few stars, or even of the earth crescent, what
of that? Why should people living inside a
planet trouble to observe that sort of thing ?
Men wouldn't have done it except for the
seasons and sailing ; why should the moon
people ? . . .
" Well, suppose there are a few philosophers
like yourself. They are just the very Selenites
who'll never hear of our existence. Suppose a
Selenite had dropped on the earth when you
were at Lympne, you'd have been the last man
in the world to hear he had come. You never
read a newspaper ! You see the chances against
you. Well, it's for these chances we're sitting
here doing nothing while precious time is flying.
I tell you we've got into a fix. We've come
unarmed, we've lost our sphere, we've got no
food, we've shown ourselves to the Selenites,
and made them think we're strange, strong.
POINTS OF VIEW 187
dangerous animals ; and unless these Selenites
are perfect fools, they'll set about now and
hunt us till they find us, and when they find
us they'll try and take us if they can, and kill us
if they can't, and that's the end of the matter.
If they take us, they'll probably kill us, through
some misunderstanding. After we're done for,
they may discuss us perhaps, but we shan't get
much fun out of that."
" Go on."
"On the other hand, here's gold knocking
about like cast iron at home. If only we can
get some of it back, if only we can find our
sphere again before they do, and get back,
"We might put the thing on a sounder
footing. Come back in a bigger sphere with
" Good Lord ! " cried Cavor, as though that
I shied another luminous fungus down the
" Look here, Cavor," I said, " I've half the
voting power anyhow in this affair, and this is
a case for a practical man. I'm a practical
man, and you are not. I'm not going to trust
to Selenites and geometrical diagrams again, if
i88 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
I can help it. . . . That's all. Get back. Drop
all this secrecy — or most of it. And come
He reflected. "When I came to the moon,"
he said, " I ought to have come alone."
** The question before the meeting," I said,
** is how to get back to the sphere."
For a time we nursed our knees in silence.
Then he seemed to decide for my reasons.
" I think," he said, ** one can get data. It is
clear that while the sun is on this side of the
moon the air will be blowing thrqugh this
planet sponge from the dark side hither. On
this side, at any rate, the air will be expand-
ing and flowing out of the moon caverns into
the craters. . . . Very well, there's a draught
*' So there is."
" And that means that this is not a dead end ;
somewhere behind us this cleft goes on and up.
The draught is blowing up, and that is the way
we have to go. If we try and get up any sort
of chimney or gully there is, we shall not only
get out of these passages where they are hunt-
ing for us "
" But suppose the gully is too narrow ? "
" We'll come down again."
'' Ssh ! " I said suddenly ; '' what's that ? "
POINTS OF VIEW 189
We listened. At first it was an indistinct
murmur, and then one picked out the clang of
a gong. ** They must think we are moon-
calves," said I, **to be frightened at that."
"They're coming along that passage," said
" They must be."
"They'll not think of the cleft. They'll go
I listened again for a space. " This time,"
I whispered, "they're likely to have some sort
Then suddenly I sprang to my feet. " Good
heavens, Cavor!" I cried. "But they wi'/l!
They'll see the fungi I have been pitching
down. They'll !"
I didn't finish my sentence. I turned about
and made a leap over the fungus tops towards
the upper end of the cavity. I saw that the
space turned upward and became a draughty
cleft again, ascending to impenetrable dark-
ness. I was about to clamber up into this, and
then with a happy inspiration turned back.
" What are you doing ? " asked Cavor.
" Go on ! " said I, and went back and got two
of the shining fungi, and putting one into the
breast pocket of my flannel jacket, so that it
stuck out to light our climbing, went back with
I90 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
the other for Cavor. The noise of the Selenites
was now so loud that it seemed they must be
already beneath the cleft. But it might be they
would have difficulty in clambering into it, or
might hesitate to ascend it against our possible
resistance. At any rate, we had now the com-
forting knowledge of the enormous muscular
superiority our birth in another planet gave
us. In another minute I was clambering with
gigantic vigour after Cavor's blue-lit heels.
THE FIGHT IN THE CAVE OF THE MOON BUTCHERS
I DO not know how far we clambered before
we came to the grating. It may be we as-
cended only a few hundred feet, but at the
time it seemed to me we might have hauled
and jammed and hopped and wedged ourselves
through a mile or more of vertical ascent.
Whenever I recall that time, there comes into
my head the heavy clank of our golden chains
that followed every movement. Very soon
my knuckles and knees were raw, and I had
a bruise on one cheek. After a time the first
violence of our efforts diminished, and our
movements became more deliberate and less
painful. The noise of the pursuing Selenites
had died away altogether. It seemed almost
as though they had not traced us up the crack
I after all, in spite of the tell-tale heap of broken
fungi that must have lain beneath it. At times
the cleft narrowed so much that we could scarce
I squeeze up it ; at others it expanded into great
192 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
drusy cavities, studded with prickly crystals,
or thickly beset with dull, shining fungoid
pimples. Sometimes it twisted spirally, and
at other times slanted down nearly to the
horizontal direction. Ever and again there
was the intermittent drip and trickle of water
by us. Once or twice it seemed to us that
small living things had rustled out of our
reach, but what they were we never saw.
They may have been venomous beasts for all
I know, but they did us no harm, and we were
now tuned to a pitch when a weird creeping
thing more or less mattered little. And at
last, far above, came the familiar bluish light
again, and then we saw that it filtered through
a grating that barred our way.
We whispered as we pointed this out to one
another, and became more and more cautious
in our ascent. Presently we were close under
the grating, and by pressing my face against
its bars I could see a limited portion of the
cavern beyond. It was clearly a large space,
and lit no doubt by some rivulet of the same
blue light that we had seen flow from the
beating machinery. An intermittent trickle
of water dropped ever and again between the
bars near my face.
My first endeavour was naturally to see
THE FIGHT IN THE CAVE 193
what might be upon the floor of the cavern,
but our grating lay in a depression whose rim
hid all this from our eyes. Our foiled atten-
tion then fell back upon the suggestion of
the various sounds we heard, and presently
my eye caught a number of faint shadows that
played across the dim roof far overhead.
Indisputably there were several Selenites,
perhaps a considerable number, in this space,
for we could hear the noises of their inter-
course, and faint sounds that I identified as
their footfalls. There was also a succession
^ of regularly repeated sounds — chid, chid, chid
— which began and ceased, suggestive of a
knife or spade hacking at some soft substance.
Then came a clank as if of chains, a whistle
and a rumble as of a truck running over a
hollowed place, and then again that chid, chid,
chid resumed. The shadows told of shapes
that moved quickly and rhythmically, in agree-
ment with that regular sound, and rested when
We put our heads close together, and began
to discuss these things in noiseless whispers.
" They are occupied," I said, ** they are
occupied in some way."
" TheyVe not seeking us, or thinking of us."
194 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
"■ Perhaps they have not heard of us."
" Those others are hunting about below.
If suddenly we appeared here "
We looked at one another.
'' There might be a chance to parley," said
" No," I said. '* Not as we are."
For a space we remained, each occupied by
his own thoughts.
Chid, chid, chid went the chopping, and the
shadows moved to and fro.
I looked at the grating. *' It's flimsy," I
said. " We might bend two of the bars and
We wasted a little time in vague discussion.
Then I took one of the bars in both hands,
and got my feet up against the rock until they
were almost on a level with my head, and so
thrust against the bar. It bent so suddenly
that I almost slipped. I clambered about and
bent the adjacent bar in the opposite direction,
and then took the luminous fungus from my
pocket and dropped it down the fissure.
" Don't do anything hastily," whispered
Cavor, as I twisted myself up through the
opening I had enlarged. I had a glimpse of
busy figures as I came through the grating,
and immediately bent down, so that the rim
THE FIGHT IN THE CAVE 195
of the depression in which the grating lay hid
me from their eyes, and so lay flat, signalling
advice to Cavor as he also prepared to come
through. Presently we were side by side in
the depression, peering over the edge at the
cavern and its occupants.
It was a much larger cavern than we had
supposed from our first glimpse of it, and we
looked up from the lowest portion of its sloping
floor. It widened out as it receded from us,
and its roof came down and hid the remoter
portion altogether. And lying in a line along
its length, vanishing at last far away in that
tremendous perspective, were a number of
huge shapes, huge pallid hulls, upon which
the Selenites were busy. At first they seemed
big white cylinders of vague import Then
I noted the heads upon them lying towards
us, eyeless and skinless like the heads of sheep
at a butcher's, and perceived they were the
carcasses of mooncalves being cut up, much
as the crew of a whaler might cut up a moored
whale. They were cutting oflf the flesh in
strips, and on some of the farther trunks the
white ribs were showing. It was the sound
of their hatchets that made that chid, chid.
Some way away a thing like a trolley cable,
drawn and loaded with chunks of lax, meat,
196 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
was running up the slope of the cavern floor.
This enormous long avenue of hulls that were
destined to be food, gave us a sense of the
vast populousness of the moon world second
only to the effect of our first glimpse down
It seemed to me at first that the Selenites
must be standing on trestle-supported planks/
and then I saw that the planks and supports
and their hatchets were really of the same
leaden hue as my fetters had seemed before
white light came to bear on them. A number
of very thick-looking crowbars lay about the
floor, and had apparently assisted to turn the
dead mooncalf over on its side. They were
perhaps six feet long, with shaped handles,
very tempting-looking weapons. The whole
place was lit by three transverse streams of
the blue fluid.
We lay for a long time noting all these
things in silence. **Well ?" said Cavor at last.
I crouched lower and turned to him. I had
come upon a brilliant idea. ''Unless they
^ I do not remember seeing any wooden things on the moon ;
doors, tables, everything corresponding to our terrestrial joinery
was made of metal, and I believe for the most part of gold,
which as a metal would, of course, naturally recommend itself —
other things being equal — on account of the ease in working it,
and its toughness and durability.
THE FIGHT IN THE CAVE 197
lowered those bodies by a crane," I said, **we
must be nearer the surface than I thought/'
"The mooncalf doesn't hop, and it hasn't
He peered over the edge of the hollow again..
*' I wonder now . . ."he began. ** After all,
we have never gone far from the surface "
I stopped him by a grip on his arm. I had
heard a noise from the cleft below us !
We twisted ourselves about, and lay as still
as death, with every sense alert. In a little
while I did not doubt that something was
quietly ascending the cleft. Very slowly and
quite noiselessly I assured myself of a good
grip on my chain, and waited for that some-
thing to appear.
" Just look at those chaps with the hatchets
again," I said.
" They're all right," said Cavor.
I took a sort of provisional aim at the gap in
the grating. I could hear now quite distinctly
the soft twittering of the ascending Selenites,
the dab of their hands against the rock, and
the falling of dust from their grips as they
Then I could see that there was something
moving dimly in the blackness below the
198 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
grating, but what it might be I could not dis-
tinguish. The whole thing seemed to hang
fire just for a moment — then smash ! I had
sprung to my feet, struck savagely at some-
thing that had flashed out at me. It was the
keen point of a spear. I have thought since
that its length in the narrowness of the cleft
must have prevented its being sloped to reach
me. Anyhow, it shot out from the grating like
the tongue of a snake, and missed and flew
back and flashed again. But the second time
I snatched and caught it, and wrenched it
away, but not before another had darted in-
effectually at me.
I shouted with triumph as I felt the hold of
the Selenite resist my pull for a moment and
give, and then I was jabbing down through the
bars, amidst squeals from the darkness, and
Cavor had snapped off the other spear, and
was leaping and flourishing it beside me,
and making inefficient jabs. Clang, clang,
came up through the grating, and then an axe
hurtled through the air and whacked against
the rocks beyond, to remind me of the fleshers
at the carcasses up the cavern.
I turned, and they were all coming towards
us in open order waving their axes. They
were short, thick, little beggars, with long
THE FIGHT IN THE CAVE 199
arms, strikingly different from the ones we
had seen before. If they had not heard of us
before, they must have realised the situation
with incredible swiftness. I stared at them
for a moment, spear in hand. '* Guard that
grating, Cavor," I cried, howled to intimi-
date them, and rushed to meet them. Two
of them missed with their hatchets, and the
rest fled incontinently. Then the two also
were sprinting away up the cavern, with hands
clenched and heads down. I never saw men
run like them !
I knew the spear I had was no good for me.
It was thin and flimsy, only effectual for a
thrust, and too long for a quick recover. So
I only chased the Selenites as far as the first
carcass, and stopped there and picked up one
of the crowbars that were lying about. It felt
confortingly heavy, and equal to smashing any
number of Selenites. I threw away my spear,
and picked up a second crowbar for the other
hand. I felt five times better than I had with
the spear. I shook the two threateningly at
the Selenites, who had come to a halt in a little
crowd far away up the cavern, and then turned
about to look at Cavor.
He was leaping from side to side of the
grating, making threatening jabs with his
200 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
broken spear. That was all right. It would
keep the Selenites down — for a time at any
rate. I looked up the cavern again. What
on earth were we going to do now ?
We were cornered in a sort of way already.
But these butchers up the cavern had been
surprised, they were probably scared, and they
had no special weapons, only those little
hatchets of theirs. And that way lay escape.
Their sturdy little forms — ever so much shorter
and thicker than the mooncalf herds— were
scattered up the slope in a way that was elo-
quent of indecision. I had the moral advan-
tage of a mad bull in a street. But for all
that, there seemed a tremendous crowd of
them. Very probably there was. Those
Selenites down the cleft had certainly som.e
infernally long spears. It might be they had
other surprises for us. . . . But, confound it!
if we charged up the cave we should let them
up behind us, and if we didn't, those little
brutes up the cave would probably get rein-
forced. Heaven alone knew what tremendous
engines of warfare — guns, bombs, terrestrial
torpedoes — this unknown world below our feet,
this vaster world of which we had only pricked
the outer cuticle, might not presently send up
to our destruction. It became clear the only
THE FIGHT IN THE CAVE 201
thing to do was to charge ! It became clearer
as the legs of a number of fresh Selenltes ap-
peared running down the cavern towards us.
** Bedford ! " cried Cavor, and behold ! he
was half-way between me and the grating.
** Go back ! " I cried. ** What are you
** They've got — it's like a gun ! "
And struggling in the grating between those
defensive spears appeared the head and shoul-
ders of a singularly lean and angular Selenite,
bearing some complicated apparatus.
I realised Cavor's utter incapacity for the
fight we had in hand. For a moment I hesi-
tated. Then I rushed past him whirling my
crowbars, and shouting to confound the aim of
the Selenite. He was aiming in the queer-
est way with the thing against his stomach.
**Cku2z!" The thing wasn't a gun; it went
off like a cross-bow more, and dropped me in
the middle of a leap.
I didn't fall down, I simply came down a
little shorter than I should have done if I
hadn't been hit, and from the feel of my
shoulder the thing might have tapped me and
glanced off. Then my left hand hit against
the shaft, and I perceived there was a sort of
spear sticking half through my shoulder. The
202 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
moment after I got home with the crowbar
in my right hand, and hit the Selenite fair
and square. He collapsed — he crushed and
crumpled — his head smashed like an Ggg,
I dropped a crowbar, pulled the spear out of
my shoulder, and began to jab it down the
grating into the darkness. At each jab came
a shriek and twitter. Finally I hurled the
spear down upon them with all my strength,
leapt up, picked up the crowbar again, and
started for the multitude up the cavern.
'' Bedford ! " cried Cavor. '' Bedford ! " as I
flew past him.
I seem to remember his footsteps coming
on behind me.
Step, leap . . . whack, step, leap. . . .
Each leap seemed to last ages. With each,
the cave opened out and the number of
Selenites visible increased. At first they
seemed all running about like ants in a dis-
turbed ant-hill, one or two waving hatchets
and coming to meet me, more running away,
some bolting sideways into the avenue of
carcasses, then presently others came in sight
carrying spears, and then others. I saw a
most extraordinary thing, all hands and feet,
bolting for cover. The cavern grew darker
farther up. Flick ! something flew over my
THE FIGHT IN THE CAVE 203
head. Flick ! As I soared in mid-stride I saw
a spear hit and quiver in one of the carcasses
to my left. Then, as I came down, one hit
the ground before me, and I heard the remote
chuzz ! with which their things were fired.
Flick, flick ! for a moment it was a shower.
They were volleying !
I stopped dead.
I don't think I thought clearly then. I seem
to remember a kind of stereotyped phrase run-
ning through my mind : ** Zone of fire, seek
cover ! " I know I made a dash for the space
between two of the carcasses, and stood there
panting and feeling very wicked.
I looked round for Cavor, and for a moment
it seemed as if he had vanished from the world.
Then he came out of the darkness between
the row of the carcasses and the rocky wall
of the cavern. I saw his little face, dark and
blue, and shining with perspiration and emotion.
He was saying something, but what it was
I did not heed. I had realised that we might
work from mooncalf to mooncalf up the cave
until we were near enough to charge home.
It was charge or nothing. ** Come on ! " I
said, and led the way.
** Bedford ! " he cried unavailingly.
My mind was busy as we went up that
204 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
narrow alley between the dead bodies and
the wall of the cavern. The rocks curved
about — they could not enfilade us. Though
in that narrow space we could not leap, yet
with our earth-born strength we were still able
to go very much faster than the Selenites.
I reckoned we should presently come right
among them. Once we were on them, they
would be nearly as formidable as black beetles.
Only ! — there would first of all be a volley.
I thought of a stratagem. I whipped off my
flannel jacket as I ran.
" Bedford ! " panted Cavor behind me,
I glanced back. '' What ? " said I.
He was pointing upward over the carcasses.
*' White light ! " he said. *' White light again ! "
I looked, and it was even so, a faint white
ghost of twilight in the remoter cavern roof
That seemed to give me double strength.
** Keep close," I said. A flat, long Selenite
dashed out of the darkness, and squealed and
fled. I halted, and stopped Cavor with my
hand. I hung my jacket over my crowbar,
ducked round the next carcass, dropped jacket
and crowbar, showed myself, and darted back.
** Chuzz — flick," just one arrow came. We
were close on the Selenites, and they were
standing in a crowd, broad, short, and tall
THE FIGHT IN THE CAVE 205
together, with a little battery of their shooting
implements pointing down the cave. Three
or four other arrows followed the first, and
then their fire ceased.
I stuck out my head, and escaped by a
hair's-breadth. This time I drew a dozen
shots or more, and heard the Selenites shout-
ing and twittering as if with excitement as they
shot. I picked up jacket and crowbar again.
*' JVow I " said I, and thrust out the jacket.
** Chuzz-zz-zz-zz ! Chuzz ! In an instant my
jacket had grown a thick beard of arrows, and
they were quivering all over the carcass behind
us. Instantly I slipped the crowbar out of the
jacket, dropped the jacket — for all I know to
the contrary it is lying up there in the moon
now — and rushed out upon them.
For a minute perhaps it was massacre. I
was too fierce to discriminate, and the Selenites
were probably too scared to fight. At any
rate they made no sort of fight against me. I
saw scarlet, as the saying is. I remember I
seemed to be wading among those leathery,
thin things as a man wades through tall grass,
mowing and hitting, first right, then left ; smash,
smash. Little drops of moisture flew about.
I trod on things that crushed and piped and
went slippery. The crowd seemed to open
and close and flow like water. They seemed
2o6 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
to have no combined plan whatever. There
were spears flew about me, I was grazed over
the ear by one. I was stabbed once in the
arm and once in the cheek, but I only found
that out afterwards, when the blood had had
time to run and cool and feel wet.
What Cavor did I do not know. For a
space it seemed that this fighting had lasted
for an age, and must needs go on for ever.
Then suddenly it was all over, and there was
nothing to be seen but the backs of heads
bobbing up and down as their owners ran in
all directions ... I seemed altogether un-
hurt. I ran forward some paces, shouting,
then turned about. I was amazed.
I had come right through them in vast flying
strides, they were all behind me, and running
hither and thither to hide.
I felt an enormous, astonishment at the
evaporation of the great fight into which I had
hurled myself, and not a little of exultation.
It did not seem to me that I had discovered
the Selenites were unexpectedly flimsy, but
that I was unexpectedly strong. I laughed
stupidly. This fantastic moon 1
I glanced for a moment at the smashed and
writhing bodies that were scattered over the
cavern floor, with a vague idea of further
violence, then hurried on after Cavor.
IN THE SUNLIGHT
Presently we saw that the cavern before us
opened on a hazy void. In another moment
we had emerged upon a sort of slanting gallery,
that projected into a vast circular space, a huge
cylindrical pit running vertically up and down.
Round this pit the slanting gallery ran without
any parapet or protection for a turn and a half,
and then plunged high above into the rock
again. Somehow it reminded me then of one
of those spiral turns of the railway through the
Saint Gothard. It was all tremendously huge.
I can scarcely hope to convey to you the Titanic
proportion of all that place, the Titanic effect
of it. Our eyes followed up the vast declivity
of the pit wall, and overhead and far above
we beheld a round opening set witji faint stars,
and half of the lip about it well-nigh blinding
with the white light of the sun. At that we
cried aloud simultaneously.
** Come on ! " I said, leading the way.
2o8 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
** But there ? " said Cavor, and very carefully-
stepped nearer the edge of the gallery. I
followed his example, and craned forward and
looked down, but I was dazzled by that gleam
of light above, and I could see only a bottomless
darkness with spectral patches of crimson and
purple floating therein. Yet if I could not see,
I could hear. Out - of this darkness came a
sound, a sound like the angry hum one can hear
if one puts one's ear outside a hive of bees, a
sound out of that enormous hollow, it may be,
four miles beneath our feet. . . .
For a moment I listened, then tightened my
grip on my crowbar, and led the way up the
*' This must be the shaft we looked down
upon," said Cavor. " Under that lid."
" And below there, is where we saw the
''The lights!" said he. **Yes — the lights
of the world that now we shall never see."
** We'll come back," I said, for now we had
escaped so much I was rashly sanguine that
we should recover the sphere.
His answer I did not catch.
"Eh?" I asked.
" It doesn't matter," he answered, and we
hurried on in silence.
IN THE SUNLIGHT 209
I suppose that slanting lateral way was four
or five miles long, allowing for its curvature,
and it ascended at a slope that would have
made it almost impossibly steep on earth, but
which one strode up easily under lunar con-
ditions. We saw only two Selenites during
all that portion of our flight, and directly they
became aware of us they ran headlong. It
was clear that the knowledge of our strength
and violence had reached them. Our way to
the exterior was unexpectedly plain. The
spiral gallery straightened into a steeply ascen-
dent tunnel, its floor bearing abundant traces
of the mooncalves, and so straight and short
in proportion to its vast arch, that no part of
it was absolutely dark. Almost immediately
it began to lighten, and then far off and high
up, and quite blindingly brilliant, appeared
its opening on the exterior, a slope of Alpine
steepness surmounted by a crest of bayonet
shrub, tall and broken down now, and dry and
dead, in spiky silhouette against the sun.
And it is strange that we men, to whom this
very vegetation had seemed so weird and
horrible a little time ago, should now behold
it with the emotion a home-coming exile might
feel at sight of his native land. We welcomed
even the rareness of the air that made us pant
2IO THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
as we ran, and which rendered speaking no
longer the easy thing that it had been, but
an effort to make oneself heard. Larger grew
the sunlit circle above us, and larger, and all
the nearer tunnel sank into a rim of indis-
tinguishable black. We saw the dead bayonet
shrub no longer with any touch of green in
it, but brown and dry and thick, and the shadow
of its upper branches high out of sight made
a densely interlaced pattern upon the tumbled
rocks. And at the immediate mouth of the
tunnel was a wide trampled space where the
mooncalves had come and gone.
We came out upon this space at last into
a light and heat that hit and pressed upon
us. We traversed the exposed area pain-
fully, and clambered up a slope among the -M
scrub stems, and sat down at last panting in
a high place beneath the shadow of a mass
of twisted lava. Even in the shade the rock
felt hot. ^
The air was intensely hot, and we were in
great physical discomfort, but for all that we
were no longer in a nightmare. We seemed
to have come to our own province again,
beneath the stars. All the fear and stress
of our flight through the dim passages and
fissures below had fallen from us. That last
IN THE SUNLIGHT 211
fight had filled us with an enormous confidence
in ourselves so far as the Selenites were con-
cerned. We looked back almost incredulously
at the black opening firom which we had just
emerged. Down there it was, in a blue glow
that now in our memories seemed the next
thing to absolute darkness, we had met with
things like mad mockeries of men, helmet-
headed creatures, and had walked in fear be-
fore them, and had submitted to them until we
could submit no longer. And, behold, they had
smashed like wax and scattered like chaff, and
fled and vanished like the creatures of a dream !
I rubbed my eyes, doubting whether we had
not slept and dreamt these things by reason
of the fungus we had eaten, and suddenly dis-
covered the blood upon my face, and then that
my shirt was sticking painfully to my shoulder
" Confound it ! " I said, gauging my injuries
with an investigatory hand, and suddenly that
distant tunnel mouth became, as it were, a
"Cavor!" I said; "what are they going to
do now ? And what are we going to do ? "
He shook his head, with his eyes fixed upon
the tunnel. "How can one tell what they
will do ? "
212 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
"It depends on what they think of us, and
I don't see how we can begin to guess that.
And it depends upon what they have in re-
serve. It's as you say, Cavor, we have
touched the merest outside of this world.
They may have all sorts of things inside here.
Even with those shooting things they might
make it bad for us. . . .
** Yet after all," I said, *' even i^ wedon'^ find
the sphere at once, there is a chance for us.
We might hold out. Even through the night.
We might go down there again and make a
fight for it."
I stared about me with speculative eyes.
The character of the scenery had altered alto-
gether by reason of the enormous growth and
subsequent drying of the scrub. The crest
on which we sat was high, and commanded a
wide prospect of the crater landscape, and we
saw it now all sere and dry in the late autumn
of the lunar afternoon. Rising one behind the
other were long slopes and fields of trampled
brown where the mooncalves had pastured,
and far away in the full blaze of the sun a
drove of them basked slumberously, scattered
shapes, each with a blot of shadow against it
like sheep on the side of a down. But never a
sign of a Selenite was to be seen. Whether
IN THE SUNLIGHT 213
they had fled on our emergence from the
interior passages, or whether they were accus-
tomed to retire after driving out the moon-
calves, I cannot guess. At the time I believed
the former was the case.
"If we were to set fire to all this stuff," I
said, "we might find the sphere among the
Cavor did not seem to hear me. He was
peering under his hand at the stars, that still,
in spite of the intense sunlight, were abundantly
visible in the sky. ** How long do you think we
have been here ? " he asked at last.
" Been where?"
** On the moon."
** Two earthly days, perhaps."
" More nearly ten. Do you know, the sun
is past its zenith, and sinking in the west. In
four days* time or less it will be night."
** But — we've only eaten once ! "
** I know that. And — But there are the
stars ! "
** But why should time seem different because
we are on a smaller planet ? "
" I don't know. There it is ! "
** How does one tell time ? "
** Hunger — fatigue — all those things are
different. Everything is different — every-
214 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
thing. To me it seems that since first we
came out of the sphere has been only a ques-
tion of hours — long hours — at most."
"Ten days," I said; "that leaves — " I
looked up at the sun for a moment, and then
saw that it was half-way from the zenith to the
western edge of things. "Four days! . . .
Cavor, we mustn't sit here and dream. How
do you think we may begin ? "
I stood up. '* We must get a fixed point
we can recognise — we might hoist a fiag, or a
handkerchief, or something — and quarter the
ground, and work round that."
He stood up beside me.
"Yes," he said, "there is nothing for it but
to hunt the sphere. Nothing. We may find
it — certainly we may find it. And if not "
" We must keep on looking."
He looked this way and that, glanced up at
the sky and down at the tunnel, and aston-
ished me by a sudden gesture of impatience.
" Oh ! but we have done foolishly ! To have
come to this pass ! Think how it might have
been, and the things we might have done ! '*
"We may do something yet."
" Never the thing we might have done.
Here below our feet is a world. Think of
what that world must be! Think of that
IN THE SUNLIGHT 215
machine we saw, and the lid and the shaft I
They were just remote outlying things, and
those creatures we have seen and fought with
no more than ignorant peasants, dwellers in
the outskirts, yokels and labourers half akin
to brutes. Down below ! Caverns beneath
caverns, tunnels, structures, ways. ... It
must open out, and be greater and wider and
more populous as one descends. Assuredly.
Right down at last to the central sea that
washes round the core of the moon. Think
of its inky waters under the spare lights — if,
indeed, their eyes need lights ! Think of the
cascading tributaries pouring down their chan-
nels to feed it ! Think of the tides upon its
surface, and the rush and swirl of its ebb and
flow! Perhaps they have ships that go upon
it, perhaps down there are mighty cities and
swarming ways, and wisdom and order passing
the wit of man. And we may die here upon
it, and never see the masters who mus^ be —
ruling over these things ! We may freeze and
die here, and the air will freeze and thaw upon
us, and then — ! Then they will come upon us,
come on our stiff and silent bodies, and find the
sphere we cannot find, and they will under-
stand at last too late all the thought and effort
that ended here in vain ! "
2i6 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
His voice for all that speech sounded like
the voice of some one heard in a telephone,
weak and far away.
*'But the darkness," I said.
*' One might get over that."
*' I don't know. How am I to know? One
might carry a torch, one might have a lamp —
The others — might understand."
He stood for a moment with his hands held
down and a rueful face, staring out over the
waste that defied him. Then with a gesture
of renunciation he turned towards me with
proposals for the systematic hunting of the
'* We can return," I said.
He looked about him. " First of all we
shall have to get to earth."
** We could bring back lamps to carry and
climbing irons, and a hundred necessary
" Yes," he said.
** We can take back an earnest of success
in this gold."
He looked at my golden crowbars, and said
nothing for a space. He stood with his hands
clasped behind his back, staring across the
crater. At last he sighed and spoke. " It
IN THE SUNLIGHT 217
was / found the way here, but to find a way
isn't always to be master of a way. If I take
my secret back to earth, what will happen ? I
do not see how I can keep my secret for a
year, for even a part of a year. Sooner or
later it must come out, even If other men
rediscover it. And then. . . . Governments
and powers will struggle to get hither, they
will fight against one another, and against
these moon people ; it will only spread warfare
and multiply the occasions of war. In a little
while, in a very little while, if I tell my secret,
this planet to its deepest galleries will be
strewn with human dead. Other things are
doubtful, but that is certain. . . . It is not as
though man had any use for the moon. What
good would the moon be to men ? Even of
their own planet what have they made but a
battle-ground and theatre of Infinite folly ?
Small as his world is, and short as his time,
he has still in his little life down there far more
than he can do. No ! Science has toiled too
long forging weapons for fools to use. It is
time she held her hand. Let him find It out
for himself again — in a thousand years' time."
" There are methods of secrecy," I said.
He looked up at me and smiled. '* After
all," he said, " why should one worry ? There
2i8 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
is little chance of our finding the sphere, and
down below things are brewing. It's simply
the human habit of hoping till we die that
makes us think of return. Our troubles are
only beginning. We have shown these moon
folk violence, we have given them a taste of
our quality, and our chances are about as good
as a tiger's that has got loose and killed a man
in Hyde Park. The news of us must be
running down from gallery to gallery, down
towards the central parts. ... No sane
beings will ever let us take that sphere back
to earth after so much as they have seen
" We aren't improving our chances," said I,
** by sitting here."
We stood up side by side.
** After all," he said, "we must separate.
We must stick up a handkerchief on these tall
spikes here and fasten it firmly, and from this
as a centre we must work over the crater.
You must go westward, moving out in semi-
circles to and fro towards the setting sun. You
must move first with your shadow on your right
until it is at right angles with the direction of
your handkerchief, and then with your shadow
on your left. And I will do the same to the
east. We will look into every gully, examine
IN THE SUNLIGHT 219
every skerry of rocks ; we will do all we can to
find my sphere. If we see Selenites we will
hide from them as well as we can. For drink
we must take snow, and if we feel the need of
food, we must kill a mooncalf if we can, and eat
such flesh as it has — raw — and so each will go
his own way."
" And if one of us comes upon the sphere ? "
** He must come back to the white handker-
chief, and stand by it and signal to the other."
** And if neither ?"
Cavor glanced up at the sun. *' We go on
seeking until the night and cold overtake us."
** Suppose the Selenites have found the
sphere and hidden it ? "
He shrugged his shoulders.
** Or if presently they come hunting us ? "
He made no answer.
** You had better take a club," I said.
He shook his head, and stared away from
me across the waste.
But for a moment he did not start. He
looked round at me shyly, hesitated. '' Au
revoz'r" he said.
I felt an odd stab of emotion. A sense of
how we had galled each other, and particularly
how I must have galled him, came to me.
** Confound it," thought I, *' we might have
220 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
done better ! " I was on the point of asking
him to shake hands — for that, somehow, was
how I felt just then — when he put his feet
together and leapt away from me towards the
north. He seemed to drift through the air as
a dead leaf would do, fell lightly, and leapt
again. I stood for a moment watching him,
then faced westward reluctantly, pulled myself
together, and with something of the feeling of
a man who leaps into icy water, selected a
leaping point, and plunged forward to explore
my solitary half of the moon world. I dropped
rather clumsily among rocks, stood up and
looked about me, clambered on to a rocky
slab, and leapt again. . . .
When presently I looked for Cavor he was
hidden from my eyes, but the handkerchief
showed out bravely on its headland, white in
the blaze of the sun.
I determined not to lose sight of that hand-
kerchief whatever might betide.
MR. BEDFORD ALONE
In a little while it seemed to me as though I
had always been alone on the moon. I hunted
for a time with a certain intentness, but the
heat was still very great, and the thinness of
the air felt like a hoop about one's chest. I
came presently into a hollow basin bristling
with tall, brown, dry fronds about its edge, and
I sat down under these to rest and cool. I
intended to rest for only a little while. I put
down my clubs beside me, and sat resting my
chin on my hands. I saw with a sort of colour-
less interest that the rocks of the basin, where
here and there the crackling dry lichens had
shrunk away to show them, were all veined
and splattered with gold, that here and there
bosses of rounded and wrinkled gold projected
from among the litter. What did that matter
now ? A sort of languor had possession of my
limbs and mind, I did not believe for a moment
that we should ever find the sphere in that vast
222 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
desiccated wilderness. I seemed to lack a
motive for effort until the Selenites should
come. Then I supposed I should exert my-
self, obeying that unreasonable imperative that
urges a man before all things to preserve and
defend his life, albeit he may preserve it only to
die more painfully in a little while.
Why had we come to the moon ?
The thing presented itself to me as a per-
plexing problem. What is this spirit in man
that urges him for ever to depart from happi-
ness and security, to toil, to place himself in
danger, to risk even a reasonable certainty of
death ? It dawned upon me up there in the
moon as a thing I ought always to have known,
that man is not made simply to go about being
safe and comfortable and well fed and amused.
Almost any man, if you put the thing to him,
not in words, but in the shape of opportunities,
will show that he knows as much. Against his
interest, against his happiness, he is constantly
being driven to do unreasonable things. Some
force not himself impels him, and go he must.
But why ? Why ? Sitting there in the midst
of that useless moon gold, amidst the things
of another world, I took count of all my life.
Assuming I was to die a castaway upon the
moon, I failed altogether to see what purpose
MR. BEDFORD ALONE 223
I had served. I got no light on that point, but
at any rate It was clearer to me than It had ever
been in my life before that I was not serving
my own purpose, that all my life I had in truth
never served the purposes of my private life.
Whose purposes, what purposes, was I serving 1
... I ceased to speculate on why we had come
to the moon, and took a wider sweep. Why
had I come to the earth } Why had I a private
life at all ? . . . I lost myself at last in bottom-
less speculations. ...
My thoughts became vague and cloudy, no
longer leading in definite directions. I had
not felt heavy or weary — I cannot imagine
one doing so upon the moon — but I suppose
I was greatly fatigued. At any rate I slept.
Slumbering there rested me greatly, I think,
and the sun was setting and the violence of the
heat abating, through all the time I slumbered.
When at last I was roused from my slumbers
by a remote clamour, I felt active and capable
again. I rubbed my eyes and stretched my
arms. I rose to my feet — I was a little stiff —
and at once prepared to resume my search.
I shouldered my golden clubs, one on each
shoulder, and went on out of the ravine of
the gold-veined rocks.
The sun was certainly lower, much lower
224 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
than it had been ; the air was very much cooler.
I perceived I must have slept some time. It
seemed to me that a faint touch of misty blue-
ness hung about the western cliff. I leapt to
a little boss of rock and surveyed the crater.
I could see no signs of mooncalves or Selenites,
nor could I see Cavor, but I could see my
handkerchief afar off, spread out on its thicket
of thorns. I looked about me, and then leapt
forward to the next convenient view-point.
I beat my way round in a semicircle, and
back again in a still remoter crescent. It was
very fatiguing and hopeless. The air was
really very much cooler, and it seemed to me
that the shadow under the westward cliff was
growing broad. Ever and again I stopped
and reconnoitred, but there was no sign of
Cavor, no sign of Selenites ; and it seemed
to me the mooncalves must have been driven
into the interior again — I could see none of
them. I became more and more desirous of
seeing Cavor. The winged outline of the sun
had sunk now, until it was scarcely the distance
of its diameter from the rim of the sky. I
was oppressed by the idea that the Selenites
would presently close their lids and valves,
and shut us out under the inexorable onrush
of the lunar night. It seemed to me high
MR. BEDFORD ALONE 225
time that he abandoned his search, and that
we took counsel together. I felt how urgent
it was that we should decide soon upon our
course. We had failed to find the sphere,
we no longer had time to seek it, and once
these valves were closed with us outside, we
were lost men. The great night of space
would descend upon us — that blackness of the
void which is the only absolute death. All
my being shrank from that approach. We
must get into the moon again, though we were
slain in doing it. I was haunted by a vision
of our freezing to death, of our hammering
with our last strength on the valve of the
I took no thought any more of the sphere.
I thought only of finding Cavor again. I was
half inclined to go back into the moon without
him, rather than seek him until it was too late.
I was already half-way back towards our hand-
kerchief, when suddenly —
I saw the sphere!
I did not find it so much as it found me.
It was lying much further to the westward
than I had gone, and the sloping rays of the
sinking sun reflected from its glass had sud-
denly proclaimed its presence in a dazzling
beam. For an instant I thought this was
226 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
some new device of the Selenites against us,
and then I understood.
I threw up my arms, shouted a ghostly
shout, and set off in vast leaps towards it. I
missed one of my leaps and dropped into a
deep ravine and twisted my ankle, and after
that I stumbled at almost every leap. I was
in a state of hysterical agitation, trembling
violently, and quite breathless long before I
got to it. Three times at least I had to stop
with my hands resting on my side, and spite
of the thin dryness of the air, the perspiration
was wet upon my face.
I thought of nothing but the sphere until
I reached it, I forgot even my trouble of
Cavor s whereabouts. My last leap flung me
with my hands hard against its glass ; then I
lay against it panting, and trying vainly to
shout, " Cavor ! here is the sphere ! " When
I had recovered a little I peered through the
thick glass, and the things inside seemed
tumbled. I stooped to peer closer. Then I
attempted to get in. I had to hoist it over
a little to get my head through the manhole.
The screw stopper was inside, and I could see
now that nothing had been touched, nothing
had suffered. It lay there as we had left it
when we had dropped out amidst the snow.
MR. BEDFORD ALONE 227
For a time I was wholly occupied in making
and remaking this inventory. I found I was
trembling violently. It was good to see that
familiar dark interior again ! I cannot tell you
how good. Presently I crept inside and sat
down among the things. I looked through
the glass at the moon world and shivered.
I placed my gold clubs upon the bale, and
sought out and took a little food ; not so much
because I wanted it, but because it was there.
Then it occurred to me that it was time to go
out and signal for Cavor. But I did not go
out and signal for Cavor forthwith. Something
held me to the sphere.
After all, everything was coming right.
There would be still time for us to get more
of the magic stone that gives one mastery
over men. Away there, close handy, was
gold for the picking up ; and the sphere would
travel as well half full of gold as though it were
empty. We could go back now, masters of
ourselves and our world, and then —
I roused myself at last, and with an effort
got myself out of the sphere. I shivered as
I emerged, for the evening air was growing
very cold. I stood in the hollow staring about
me. 1 scrutinised the bushes round me very
carefully before I leapt to the rocky shelf hard
'228 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
by, and took once more what had been my
first leap in the moon. But now I made it
with no effort whatever.
The growth and decay of the vegetation
had gone on apace, and the whole aspect of
the rocks had changed, but still it was possible
to make out the slope on which the seeds had
germinated, and the rocky mass from which
we had taken our first view of the crater. But
the spiky shrub on the slope stood brown and
sere now, and thirty feet high, and cast long
shadows that stretched out of sight, and the
little seeds that clustered in its upper branches
were brown and ripe. Its work was done,
and it was brittle and ready to fall and crumple
under the freezing air, so soon as the night-
fall came. And the huge cacti, that had swollen
as we watched them, had long since burst and
scattered their spores to the four quarters of
the moon. Amazing little corner in the uni-
verse — the landing-place of men !
Some day, thought I, I will have an inscrip-
tion standing there right in the midst of the
hollow. It came to me, if only this teeming
world within knew of the full import of the
moment, how furious its tumult would become !
But as yet it could scarcely be dreaming
of the significance of our coming. For if it
MR. BEDFORD ALONE 229
did, the crater would surely be an uproar
of pursuit, Instead of as still as death ! I
looked about for some place from which I
might signal to Cavor, and saw that same
patch of rock to which he had leapt from my
present standpoint, still bare and barren in the
sun. For a moment I hesitated at going so
far from the sphere. Then with a pang of
shame at that hesitation, I leapt. . . .
From this vantage point I surveyed the
crater again. Far away at the top of the
enormous shadow I cast was the little white
handkerchief fluttering on the bushes. It was
very little and very far, and Cavor was not
in sight.' It seemed to me that by this time
he ought to be looking for me. That was the
agreement. But he was nowhere to be seen.
I stood waiting and watching, hands shad-
ing my eyes, expecting every moment to dis-
tinguish him. Very probably I stood there
for quite a long time. I tried to shout,
and was reminded of the thinness of the air.
I made an undecided step back towards the
sphere. But a lurking dread of the Selenites
made me hesitate to signal my whereabouts
by hoisting one of our sleeping-blankets on
to the adjacent scrub. I searched the crater
230 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
It had an effect of emptiness that chilled
me. And it was still ! Any sound from the
Selenites in the world beneath, even had
died away. It was as still as death. Save
for the faint stir of the shrub about me in
the little breeze that was rising, there was
no sound nor shadow of a sound. And the
breeze blew chill.
Confound Cavor !
I took a deep breath. I put my hands to
the sides of my mouth. "Cavor!" I bawled,
and the sound was like some manikin shouting
I looked at the handkerchief, I looked be-
hind me at the broadening shadow of the west-
ward cliff, I looked under my hand at the sun.
It seemed to me that almost visibly it was
creeping down the sky.
I felt I must act instantly if I was to save
Cavor. I whipped off my vest and flung it
as a mark on the sere bayonets of the shrubs
behind me, and then set off in a straight line
towards the handkerchief. Perhaps it was a
couple of miles away^ — a matter of a few hun-
dred leaps and strides. I have already told
how one seemed to hang through those lunar
leaps. In each suspense I sought Cavor, and
marvelled why he should be hidden. In each
MR. BEDFORD ALONE 231
leap I could feel the sun setting behind me.
Each time I touched the ground I was tempted
to go back.
A last leap and I was in the depression
below our handkerchief, a stride, and I stood on
our former vantage point within arm's reach
of it. I stood up straight and scanned the
world about me, between its lengthening bars
of shadow. Far away, down a long declivity,
was the opening of the tunnel up which we
had fled, and my shadow reached towards it,
stretched towards it, and touched it, like a
finger of the night.
Not a sign of Cavor, not a sound in all the
stillness, only that the stir and waving of the
scrub and of the shadows increased. And
suddenly and violently I shivered. ** Gav — "
I began, and realised once more the useless-
ness of the human voice in that thin air.
Silence. The silence of death.
Then it was my eye caught something —
a little thing, lying perhaps fifty yards away
down the slope, amidst a litter of bent and
broken branches. What was it } I knew,
and yet for some reason I would not know.
I went nearer to it. It was the little cricket-
cap Cavor had worn. I did not touch it, I
stood looking at it.
232 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
I saw then that the scattered branches about
it had been forcibly smashed and trampled.
I hesitated, stepped forward and picked it up.
I stood with Cavor s cap in my hand, staring
at the trampled reeds and thorns about me.
On some of them were little smears of some-
thing dark, something that I dared not touch.
A dozen yards away, perhaps, the rising breeze
dragged something into view, something small
and vividly white.
It was a little piece of paper crumpled tightly,
as though it had been clutched tightly. I
picked it up, and on it were smears of red.
My eye caught faint pencil marks. I smoothed
it out, and saw uneven and broken writing end-
ing at last in a crooked streak upon the paper.
I set myself to decipher this.
** I have been injured about the knee, I
think my kneecap is hurt, and I cannot run
or crawl," it began — pretty distinctly written.
Then less legibly : ** They have been chas-
ing me for some time, and it is only a question
of" — the word *' time " seemed to have been
written here and erased in favour of something
illegible — *' before they get me. They are
beating all about me."
Then the writing became convulsive. " I
can hear them," I guessed the tracing meant,
MR. BEDFORD ALONE 233
and then it was quite unreadable for a space.
Then came a little string of words that were
quite distinct : "a different sort of Selenite
altogether, who appears to be directing the — '*
The writing became a mere hasty confusion
" They have larger brain cases — much larger,
and slenderer bodies, and very short legs. They
make gentle noises, and move with organised
" And though I am wounded and helpless
here, their appearance still gives me hope — "
That was like Cavor. ** They have not shot
at me or attempted . . . injury. I intend "
Then came the sudden streak of the pencil
across the paper, and on the back and edges
And as I stood there stupid and perplexed,
with this dumbfounding relic in my hand, some-
thing very soft and light and chill touched
my hand for a moment and ceased to be, and
then a thing, a little white speck, drifted athwart
a shadow. It was a tiny snowflake, the first
snowflake, the herald of the night.
I looked up with a start, and the sky had
darkened now almost to blackness, and was thick
with a gathering multitude of coldly watchful
stars. I looked eastward, and the light of that
234 T^HE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
shrivelled world was touched with a sombre
bronze ; westward, and the sun, robbed now by
a thickening white mist of half its heat and
splendour, was touching the crater rim, was
sinking out of sight, ' and all the shrubs and
jagged and tumbled rocks stood out against
it in a bristling disorder of black shapes. Into
the great lake of darkness westward, a vast
wreath of mist was sinking. A cold wind set
all the crater shivering. Suddenly, for a
moment, I was in a puff of falling snow, and
all the world about me grey and dim.
And then it was I heard, not loud and pene-
trating as at first, but faint and dim like a
dying voice, that tolling, that same tolling
that had welcomed the coming of the day :
Boom ! . . . Boom ! . . . Boom ! . . .
It echoed about the crater, it seemed to
throb with the throbbing of the greater stars,
the blood-red crescent of the sun's disk sank
as it tolled out : Boom ! . . . Boom ! . . .
What had happened to Cavor ? All through
that tolling I stood there stupidly, and at last
the tolling ceased.
And suddenly the open mouth of the tunnel
down below there, shut like an eye and vanished
out of sight.
MR, BEDFORD ALONE 235
Then indeed was I alone.
Over me, around me, closing in on me, em-
bracing me ever nearer, was the Eternal ; that
which was before the beginning, and that which
triumphs over the end ; that enormous void in
which all light and life and being is but the
thin and vanishing splendour of a falling star,
the cold, the stillness, the silence — the infinite
and final Night of space.
The sense of solitude and desolation became
the sense of an overwhelming presence that
stooped towards me, that almost touched me.
**No," I cried. ''No/ Not yet! not yet!
Wait ! Wait ! Oh wait ! " My voice went up
to a shriek. I flung the crumpled paper from
me, scrambled back to the crest to take my
bearings, and then, with all the will that was
in me, leapt out towards the mark I had left,
dim and distant now in the very margin of the
Leap, leap, leap, and each leap was seven ages.
Before me the pale serpent-girdled section
of the sun sank and sank, and the advancing
shadow swept to seize the sphere before I could
reach it. I was two miles away, a hundred
leaps or more, and the air about me was thin-
ning out as it thins under an air-pump, and the
cold was gripping at my joints. But had I
236 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
died, I should have died leaping. Once, and
then again my foot slipped on the gathering
mow as I leapt and shortened my leap ; once I
fell short into bushes that crashed and smashed
into dusty chips and nothingness, and once I
stumbled as I dropped, and rolled head over
heels into a gully, and rose bruised and bleeding
and confused as to my direction.
But such incidents were as nothing to the
intervals, those awful pauses when one drifted
through the air towards that pouring tide of
night. My breathing made a piping noise,
and it was as though knives were whirling in
my lungs. My heart seemed to beat against
the top of my brain. ** Shall I reach it.**
Heaven ! shall I reach it ? "
My whole being became anguish.
*' Lie down ! " screamed my pain and despair ;
** lie down ! "
The nearer I struggled, the more awfully
remote It seemed. I was numb, I stumbled,
1 bruised and cut myself and did not bleed.
It was in sight.
I fell on all fours, and my lungs whooped.
I crawled. The frost gathered on my lips,
icicles hung from my moustache, I was white
with the freezing atmosphere.
I was a dozen yards from it. My eyes had
The nearer I struggled, the more awfully remote it seemed "
MR. BEDFORD ALONE 237
become dim. '* Lie down ! " screamed despair ;
I touched it, and halted. " Too late ! "
screamed despair ; ''lie down ! "
I fought stiffly with it. I was on the man-
hole lip, a stupefied, half-dead being. The
snow was all about me. I pulled myself in.
There lurked within a little warmer air.
The snowflakes — the airflakes — danced in
about me, as I tried with chilling hands to
thrust the valve in and spun it tight and hard.
I sobbed. " I will," I chattered in my teeth.
And then, with fingers that quivered and felt
brittle, I turned to the shutter studs.
As I fumbled with the switches — for I had
never controlled them before — I could see
dimly through the steaming glass the blazing
red streamers of the sinking sun, dancing and
flickering through the snowstorm, and the
black forms of the scrub thickening and bend-
ing and breaking beneath the accumulating
snow. Thicker whirled the snow and thicker,
black against the light. What if even now the
switches overcame me ?
Then something clicked under my hands, and
in an instant that last vision of the moon world
was hidden from my eyes. I was in the silence
and darkness of the inter-planetary sphere.
MR. BEDFORD IN INFINITE SPACE
It was almost as though I had been killed.
Indeed, I could imagine a man suddenly and
violently killed would feel very much as I did.
One moment, a passion of agonising existence
and fear; the next, darkness and stillness,
neither light nor life nor sun, moon nor stars,
the blank infinite. Although the thing was
done by my own act, although I had already
tasted this very effect in Cavor's company, I
felt astonished, dumbfounded, and overwhelmed.
I seemed to be borne upward into an enor-
mous darkness. My fingers floated off the
studs, I hung as if I were annihilated, and at
last very softly and gently I came against the
bale and the golden chain, and the crowbars
that had drifted to the middle of the sphere.
I do not know how long that drifting took.
In the sphere of course, even more than on the
moon, one's earthly time sense was ineffectual.
At the touch of the bale it was as if I had
MR. BEDFORD IN INFINITE SPACE 239
awakened from a dreamless sleep. I imme-
diately perceived that if I wanted to keep
awake and alive I must get a light or open a
window, so as to get a grip of something with
my eyes. And besides I was cold. I kicked
off from the bale, therefore, clawed on to the
thin cords within the glass, crawled along until
I got to the manhole rim, and so got my bear-
ings for the light and blind studs, took a shove
off, and flying once round the bale, and getting
a scare from something big and flimsy that
was drifting loose, I got my hand on the cord
quite close to the studs, and reached them. I
lit the little lamp first of all to see what it was
I had collided with, and discovered that old
copy of Lloyd's News had slipped its moor-
ings, and was adrift in the void. That brought
me out of the infinite to my own proper dimen-
sions again. It made me laugh and pant for a
time, and suggested the idea of a little oxygen
from one of the cylinders. After that I lit the
heater until I felt warm, and then I took food.
Then I set to work in a very gingerly fashion
on the Cavorite blinds, to see if I could guess
by any means how the sphere was travelling.
The first blind I opened I shut at once, and
hung for a time flattened and blinded by the
sunlight that had hit me. After thinking a
240 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
little I started upon the windows at right angles
to this one, and got the huge crescent moon
and the little crescent earth behind it, the
second time. I was amazed to find how far I
was from the moon. I had reckoned that not
only should I have little or none of the ** kick-
off'' that the earth's atmosphere had given us
at our start, but that the tangential *' fly off" of
the moon's spin would be at least twenty-eight
times less than the earth's. I had expected to
discover myself hanging over our crater, and
on the edge of the night, but all that was now
only a part of the outline of the white crescent
that filled the sky. And Cavor -?
He was already infinitesimal.
I tried to imagine what could have happened
to him. But at that time I could think of
nothing but death. I seemed to see him, bent
and smashed at the foot of some interminably
high cascade of blue. And all about him the
stupid insects stared. . . .
Under the inspiring touch of the drifting
newspaper I became practical again for a while.
It was quite clear to me that what I had to do
was to get back to earth, but as far as I could
see I was drifting away from it. Whatever
had happened to Cavor, even if he was still
alive, which seemed to me incredible after that
MR, BEDFORD IN INFINITE SPACE 241
blood-stained scrap, I was powerless to help him.
There he was, living or dead behind the mantle
of that rayless night, and there he must remain
at least until I could summon our fellow-men to
his assistance. Should I do that ? Something
of the sort I had in my mind ; to come back to
earth if it were possible, and then as maturer
consideration might determine, either to show
and explain the sphere to a few discreet per-
sons, and act with them, or else to keep my
secret, sell my gold, obtain weapons, provisions,
and an assistant, and return with these advan-
tages to deal on equal terms with the flimsy
people of the moon, to rescue Cavor, if that
were still possible, and at any rate to procure
a sufficient supply of gold to place my subse-
quent proceedings on a firmer basis. But that
was hoping far, I had first to get back.
I set myself to decide just exactly how the
return to earth could be contrived. As I strug-
gled with that problem I ceased to worry about
what I should do when I got there. At last
my only care was to get back.
I puzzled out at last that my best chance
would be to drop back towards the moon as
near as I dared in order to gather velocity,
then to shut my windows and fly behind it,
and when I was past to open my earthward
242 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
windows, and so get off at a good pace home-
ward. But whether I should ever reach the
earth by that device, or whether I might not
simply find myself spinning about it in some
hyperbolic or parabolic curve or other, I could
not tell. Later I had a happy inspiration, and
by opening certain windows to the moon,
which had appeared in the sky in front of the
earth, I turned my course aside so as to head
off the earth, which it had become evident to
me I must pass behind without some such
expedient. I did a very great deal of compli-
cated thinking over these problems— for I am
no mathematician — and in the end I am cer-
tain it was much more my good luck than my
reasoning that enabled me to hit the earth.
Had I known then, as I know now, the mathe-
matical chances there were against me, I doubt
if I should have troubled even to touch the
studs to make any attempt. And having
puzzled out what I considered to be the thing
to do, I opened all my moonward windows,
and squatted down — the effort lifted me for a
time some feet or so into the air, and I hung
there in the oddest way — and waited for the
crescent to get bigger and bigger until I felt I
was near enough for safety. Then I would
shut the windows, fiy past the moon with the
MR, BEDFORD IN INFINITE SPACE 243
velocity I had get from it — if I did not smash
upon it — and so go on towards the earth.
And that is what I did.
At last I felt my moonward start was suffi-
cient. I shut out the sight of the moon from
my eyes, and in a state of mind that was, I
now recall, incredibly free from anxiety or any
distressful quality, I sat down to begin a vigil
in that little speck of matter in infinite space
that would last until I should strike the earth.
The heater had made the sphere tolerably
warm, the air had been refreshed by the
oxygen, and except for that faint congestion
of the head that was always with me while I
was away from earth, I felt entire physical
comfort. I had extinguished the light again,
lest it should fail me in the end ; I was in
darkness, save for the earthshine and the
glitter of the stars below me. Everything was
so absolutely silent and still that I might in-
deed have been the only being in the universe,
and yet, strangely enough, I had no more feel-
ing of loneliness or fear than if I had been
lying in bed on earth. Now, this seems all the
stranger to me, since during my last hours in
that crater of the moon, the sense of my utter
loneliness had been an agony. . . .
Incredible as it will seem, this interval of
244 T^HE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
time that I spent in space h-^s no sort of pro-
portion to any other interval of time in my life.
Sometimes it seemed as though I sat through
immeasurable eternities like some god upon a
lotus leaf, and again as though there was a
momentary pause as I leapt from moon to
earth. In truth, it was altogether some weeks
of earthly time. But I had done with care and
anxiety, hunger or fear, for that space. I floated,
thinking with a strange breadth and freedom of
all that we had undergone, and of all my life
and motives, and the secret issues of my being.
I seemed to myself to have grown greater
and greater, to have lost all sense of move-
ment ; to be floating amidst the stars, and
always the sense of earth's littleness and the
infinite littleness of my life upon it, was im-
plicit in my thoughts.
I can't profess to explain the things that
happened in my mind. No doubt they could
all be traced directly or indirectly to the curious
physical conditions under which I was living.
I set them down here just for what they are
worth, and without any comment. The most
prominent quality of it was a pervading doubt
of my own identity. I became, if I may so
express it, dissociate from Bedford ; I looked
down on Bedford as a trivial, incidental thing
MR, BEDFORD .'N INFINITE SPACE 245
with which I chanced to be connected. I saw
Bedford in many relations — as an ass or as a
poor beast, where I had hitherto been inclined
to regard him with a quiet pride as a very
spirited or rather forcible person. I saw him
not only as an ass, but as the son of many
generations of asses. I reviewed his school-
days and his early manhood, and his first
encounter with love, very much as one might
review the proceedings of an ant in the sand.
. . . Something of that period of lucidity I
regret still hangs about me, and I doubt if I
shall ever recover the full-bodied self-satisfac-
tion of my early days. But at the time the
thing was not in the least painful, because I
had that extraordinary persuasion that, as a
matter of fact, I was no more Bedford than I
was any one else, but only a mind floating in
the still serenity of space. Why should I be
disturbed about this Bedford's shortcomings ?
I was not responsible for him or them.
For a time I struggled against this really
very grotesque delusion. I tried to summon
the memory of vivid moments, of tender or
intense emotions to my assistance ; I felt that
if I could recall one genuine twinge of feeling
the growing severance would be stopped. But
I could not do it. I saw Bedford rushing down
246 THE FIRST MEN W THE MOON
Chancery Lane, hat on thf: back of his head,
coat tails flying out, en route for his public
examination. I saw him dodging and bump-
ing against, and even saluting, other similar
little creatures in that swarming gutter] of
people. Me? I saw Bedford that same
evening in the sitting-room of a certain lady,
and his hat was on the table beside him, and
it wanted brushing badly, and he was in tears.
Me? I saw him with that lady in various
attitudes and emotions — I never felt so de-
tached before. ... I saw him hurrying off to
Lympne to write a play, and accosting Cavor,
and in his shirt sleeves working at the sphere,
and walking out to Canterbury because he was
afraid to come I Me ? I did not believe it.
I still reasoned that all this was hallucination
due to my solitude, and the fact that I had lost
all weight and sense of resistance. I endea-
voured to recover that sense by banging myself
about the sphere, by pinching my hands and
clasping them together. Among other things
I lit the light, captured that torn copy of Lloyd' Sy
and read those convincingly realistic advertise-
ments again about the Cutaway bicycle, and the
gentleman of private means, and the lady in
distress who was selling those " forks and
spoonsa" There was no doubt they existed
MR, BEDFORD IN INFINITE SPACE 247
surely enough, and, said I, '* This is your
world, and you are Bedford, and you are
going back to live among things like that for
all the rest of your life." But the doubts within
me could still argue : "It is not you that is
reading, it is Bedford, but you are not Bed-
ford, you know. That's just where the mistake
'* Confound it ! " I cried ; " and if I am not
Bedford, what am I ? "
But in that direction no light was forthcom-
ing, though the strangest fancies came drifting
into my brain, queer remote suspicions, like
shadows seen from far away. . . . Do you
know, I had a sort of idea that really I was
something quite outside not only the world,
but all worlds, and out of space and time, and
that this poor Bedford was just a peephole
through which I looked at life .«* . . .
Bedford ! However I disavowed him, there
I was most certainly bound up with him, and I
knew that wherever or whatever I might be, I
must needs feel the stress of his desires, and
sympathise with all his joys and sorrows until
his life should end. And with the dying of
Bedford — what then ? . . .
Enough of this remarkable phase of my
experiences ! I tell it here simply to show
248 . THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
how one's isolation and departure from this
planet touched not only the functions and
feeling of every organ of the body, but in-
deed also the very fabric of the mind, with
strange and unanticipated disturbances. All
through the major portion of that vast space
journey I hung thinking of such immaterial
things as these, hung dissociated and apathetic,
a cloudy megalo-maniac, as it were, amidst the
stars and planets in the void of space ; and not
only the world to which I was returning, but
the blue-lit caverns of the Selenites, their helmet
faces, their gigantic and wonderful machines,
and the fate of Cavor, dragged helpless into
that world, seemed infinitely minute and alto-
gether trivial things to me.
Until at last I began to feel the pull of the
earth upon my being, drawing me back again
to the life that is real for men. And then, in-
deed, it grew clearer and clearer to me that
I was quite certainly Bedford after all, and
returning after amazing adventures to this
world of ours, and with a life that I was very
likely to lose in this return. I set myself to
puzzle out the conditions under which I must
fall to earth.
MR. BEDFORD AT LITTLESTONE
My line of flight was about parallel with the
surface as I came into the upper air. The
temperature of the sphere began to rise forth-
with. I knew it behoved me to drop at once.
Far below me, in a darkling twilight, stretched
a great expanse of sea. I opened every win-
dow I could, and fell — out of sunshine into
evening, and out of evening into night. Vaster
grew the earth and vaster, swallowing up the
stars, and the silvery translucent starlit veil of
cloud it wore spread out to catch me. At last
the world seemed no longer a sphere but flat,
and then concave. It was no longer a planet in
the sky, but the world of Man. I shut all but an
inch or so of earthward window, and dropped
with a slackening velocity. The broadening
water, now so near that I could see the dark
glitter of the waves, rushed up to meet me.
The sphere became very hot. I snapped the
last strip of window, and sat scowling and biting
my knuckles, waiting for the impact. . . .
250 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
The sphere hit the water with a huge
splash : it must have sent it fathoms high.
At the splash I flung the Cavorite shutters
open. Down I went, but slower and slower,
and then I felt the sphere pressing against
my feet, and so drove up again as a bubble
drives. And at the last I was floating and
rocking upon the surface of the sea, and my
journey in space was at an end.
The night was dark and overcast. Two
yellow pin-points far away showed the passing
of a ship, and nearer was a red glare that
came and went. Had not the electricity of
my glow-lamp exhausted itself, I could have
got picked up that night. In spite of the in-
ordinate fatigue I was beginning to feel, I was
excited now, and for a time hopeful, in a
feverish, impatient way, that so my travelling
But at last I ceased to move about, and sat,
wrists on knees, staring af a distant red light.
It swayed up and down, rocking, rocking. My
excitement passed. I realised I had yet to
spend another night at least in the sphere. I
perceived myself infinitely heavy and fatigued.
And so I fell asleep.
A change in my rhythmic motion awakened
me. I peered through the refracting glass,
MR. BEDFORD AT LITTLESTONE 251
and saw that I had come aground upon a huge
shallow of sand. Far away I seemed to see
houses and trees, and seaward a curved, vague
distortion of a ship hung between sea and sky.
I stood up and staggered. My one desire
was to emerge. The manhole was upward, and
I wrestled with the screw. Slowly I opened
the manhole. At last the air was singing in
again as once it had sung out. But this time
I did not wait until the pressure was adjusted.
In another moment I had the weight of the
window on my hands, and I was open, wide
open, to the old familiar sky of earth.
The air hit me on the chest so that I gasped.
I dropped the glass screw. I cried out, put
my hands to my chest, and sat down. For
a time I was in pain. Then I took deep
breaths. At last I could rise and move about
I tried to thrust my head through the man-
hole, and the sphere rolled over. It was as
though something had lugged my head down
directly it emerged. I ducked back sharply,
or I should have been pinned face under water.
After some wriggling and shoving I managed
to crawl out upon sand, over which the retreat-
ing waves still came and went.
I did not attempt to stand up. It seemed
252 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
to me that my body must be suddenly changed
to lead. Mother Earth had her grip on me
now — no Cavorite intervening. I sat down
heedless of the water that came over my feet.
It was dawn, a grey dawn, rather overcast,
but showing here and there a long patch of
greenish grey. Some way out a ship was
lying at anchor, a pale silhouette of a ship with
one yellow light. The water came rippling in
in long shallow waves. Away to the right
curved the land, a shingle bank with little
hovels, and at last a lighthouse, a sailing mark
and a point. Inland stretched a space of level
sand, broken here and there by pools of water,
and ending a mile away perhaps in a low shore
of scrub. To the north-east some isolated
watering-place was visible, a row of gaunt
lodging-houses, the tallest things that I could
see on earth, dull dabs against the brightening
sky. What strange men can have reared these
vertical piles in such an amplitude of space I
do not know. There they are, like pieces of
Brighton lost in the waste.
For a long time I sat there, yawning and
rubbing my face. At last I struggled to rise.
It made me feel that I was lifting a weight.
I stood up.
I stared at the distant houses. For the first
MR. BEDFORD AT LITTLESTONE 253
time since our starvation in the crater I thought
of earthly food. " Bacon," I whispered, *' eggs.
Good toast and good coffee. . . . And how
the devil am I going to get all this stuff to
Lympne ? " I wondered where I was. It was
an east shore anyhow, and I had seen Europe
before I dropped.
I heard footsteps scrunching in the sand,
and a little round-faced, friendly-looking man
in flannels, with a bathing towel wrapped about
his shoulders, and his bathing dress over his
arm, appeared up the beach. I knew instantly
that I must be in England. He was staring
almost intently at the sphere and me. He ad-
vanced staring. I daresay I looked a ferocious
savage enough — dirty, unkempt, to an inde-
scribable degree ; but it did not occur to me at
the time. He stopped at a distance of twenty
yards. " Hul-lo, my man ! " he said doubtfully.
** Hullo yourself! " said I.
He advanced, reassured by that. " What on
earth is that thing ? " he asked.
'* Can you tell me where I am ? " I asked.
"That's Littlestone," he said, pointing to
the houses ; '* and that's Dungeness ! Have
you just landed ? What^s that thing you've
got ? Some sort of machine ? "
254 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
" Have you floated ashore ? Have you
been wrecked or something? What is it?"
I meditated swiftly. I made an estimate of
the little man's appearance as he drew nearer.
" By Jove ! " he said, *' youVe had a time of
it ! I thought you — Well — Where were
you cast away? Is that thing a sort of float-
ing thing for saving life ? "
I decided to take that line for the present.
I made a few vague affirmatives. ** I want
help," I said hoarsely. " I want to get some
stuff up the beach — stuff I can't very well leave
about." I became aware of three other plea-
sant-looking young men with towels, blazers,
and straw hats, coming down the sands towards
me. Evidently the early bathing section of
"Help!" said the young man; ** rather!"
He became vaguely active. "What particu-
larly do you want done ? " He turned round
and gesticulated. The three young men ac-
celerated their pace. In a minute they were
about me, plying me with questions I was
indisposed to answer. " I'll tell all that later,"
I said. " I'm dead beat. I'm a rag."
'* Come up to the hotel," said the foremost
little man. ** We'll look after that thing
MR. BEDFORD AT LITTLESTONE 255
I hesitated. '' I can't," I said. *' In that
sphere there's two big bars of gold."
They looked incredulously at one another,
then at me with a new inquiry. I went to the
sphere, stooped, crept in, and presently they
had the Selenites' crowbars and the broken
chain before them. If I had not been so
horribly fagged I could have laughed at
them. It was like kittens round a beetle.
They didn't know what to do with the stuff.
The fat little man stooped and lifted the end of
one of the bars, and then dropped it with a
grunt. Then they all did.
** It's lead, or gold ! " said one.
"Oh, \x!sgold!'' said another.
"Gold, right enough," said the third.
Then they all stared at me, and then they
all stared at the ship lying at anchor.
" I say ! " cried the little man. ** But where
did you get that ? "
I was too tired to keep up a lie. " I got it
in the moon."
I saw them stare at one another.
'* Look here ! " said I, *' I'm not going to
argue now. Help me carry these lumps of gold
up to the hotel — I guess, with rests, two of you
can manage one, and I'll trail this chain thing —
and I'll tell you more when I've had some food.'*
256 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
" And how about that thing ? "
** It won't hurt there," I said. " Anyhow —
confound it ! — it must stop there now. If the
tide comes up, it will float all right."
And in a state of enormous wonderment,
these young men most obediently hoisted my
treasures on their shoulders, and with limbs
that felt like lead I headed a sort of procession
towards that distant fragment of ** sea-front.'*
Half-way there we were reinforced by two awe-
stricken little girls with spades, and later a lean
little boy, with a penetrating sniff, appeared.
He was, I remember, wheeling a bicycle, and
he accompanied us at a distance of about a
hundred yards on our right fiank, and then, I
suppose, gave us up as uninteresting, mounted
his bicycle, and rode off over the level sands
in the direction of the sphere.
I glanced back after him.
*^ He won't touch it," said the stout young
man reassuringly, and I was only too willing
to be reassured.
At first something of the grey of the morn-
ing was in my mind, but presently the sun
disengaged itself from the level clouds of the
horizon and lit the world, and turned the leaden
sea to glittering waters. My spirits rose. A
sense of the vast importance of the things I
MR. BEDFORD AT LITTLESTONE 257
had done and had yet to do came with the
sunlight into my mind. I laughed aloud as
the foremost man staggered under my gold.
When indeed I took my place in the world,
how amazed the world would be !
If it had not been for my inordinate fatigue,
the landlord of the Littlestone hotel would have
been amusing, as he hesitated between my
gold and my respectable company on the one
hand, and my filthy appearance on the other.
But at last I found myself in a terrestrial bath-
room once more with warm water to wash
myself with, and a change of raiment, prepos-
terously small indeed, but anyhow clean, that
the genial little man had lent me. He lent
me a razor too, but I could not screw up
my resolution to attack even the outposts of
the bristling beard that covered my face.
I sat down to an English breakfast and ate
with a sort of languid appetite — an appetite
many weeks old, and very decrepit — and stirred
myself to answer the questions of the four
young men. And I told them the truth.
*'Well," said I, *' as you press me — I got it
in the moon."
" The moon?"
" Yes, the moon in the sky,"
" But how do you mean ? "
258 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
** What I say, confound it ! "
** That you have just come from the
** Exactly ! through space — in that ball."
And I took a delicious mouthful of egg, I
made a private note that when I went back
to the moon I would take a box of eggs.
I could see clearly that they did not believe
one word of what I told them, but evidently
they considered me the most respectable liar
they had ever- met. They glanced at one
another, and then concentrated the fire of their
eyes on me. I fancy they expected a clue to
me in the way I helped myself to salt. They
seemed to find something significant in my
peppering my egg. These strangely shaped
masses of gold they had staggered under held
their minds. There the lumps lay in front of
me, each worth thousands of pounds, and as
impossible for any one to steal as a house or a
piece of land. As I looked at their curious
faces over my coffee-cup, I realised something
of the enormous wilderness of explanations
into which I should have to wander to render
myself comprehensible again.
"You don't really mean — " began the
youngest young man, in the tone of one who
speaks to an obstinate child.
MR. BEDFORD AT LITTLESTONE ^9
"Just pass me that toast- rack," I said, and
shut him up completely.
" But look here, I say," began one of the
others. ** We're not going to believe that,
** Ah, well," said I, and shrugged my
"He doesn't want to tell us," said the
youngest young man in a stage aside ; and
then, with an appearance of great sang-froid^
"You don't mind if I take a cigarette?"
I waved him a cordial assent, and proceeded
with my breakfast. Two of the others went
and looked out of the farther window and
talked inaudibly. I was struck by a thought.
"The tide," I said, "is running out?"
There was a pause, a doubt who should
answer me. " It's near the ebb," said the
fat little man.
"Well, anyhow," I said, "it won't float far."
I decapitated my third ^gg^ and began a
little speech. " Look here," I said. " Please
don't imagine Fm surly or telling you uncivil
lies, or anything of that sort. I'm forced
almost, to be a little short and mysterious.
I can quite understand this is as queer as
it can be, and that your imaginations must
be going it. I can assure you, you're in at
26o THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
a memorable time. But I can't make it clear
to you now — it's impossible. I give you my
word of honour I've come from the moon, and
that's all I can tell you. . . . All the same I'm
tremendously obliged to you, you know, tre-
mendously. I hope that my manner hasn't in
any way given you offence."
" Oh, not in the least ! " said the youngest
young man affably. "We can quite under-
stand," and staring hard at me all the time,
he heeled his chair back until it very nearly
upset, and recovered with some exertion.
** Not a bit of it," said the fat young man.
*' Don't you imagine thatV and they all got
up and dispersed, and walked about and lit
cigarettes, and generally tried to show they
were perfectly amiable and disengaged, and
entirely free from the slightest curiosity about
me and the sphere. ** I'm going to keep
an eye on that ship out there all the same," I
heard one of them remarking in an undertone.
If only they could have forced themselves to
it, they would, I believe, even have gone out
and left me. I went on with my third ^g<g,
" The weather," the fat little man remarked
presently, **has been immense, has it not .-^
I don't know when we have had such a
summer. . . ."
MR. BEDFORD AT LITTLESTONE 261
Phoo — whizz ! Like a tremendous rocket !
And somewhere a window was broken. . . .
- What's that ? " said I.
** It isn't — ?" cried the little man, and
rushed to the corner window.
All the others rushed to the window like-
wise. I sat staring at them.
Suddenly I leapt up, knocked over my third
egg, and rushed for the window also. I had
just thought of something. ** Nothing to be
seen there," cried the little man, rushing for
** It's that boy ! " I cried, bawling in hoarse
fury ; ** it's that accursed boy ! " and turning
about I pushed the waiter aside — he was just
bringing me some more toast — and rushed
violently out of the room and down and out
upon the queer little esplanade in front of the
The sea, which had been smooth, was rough
now with hurrying cat's-paws, and all about
where the sphere had been was tumbled water
like the wake of a ship. Above, a little puff
of cloud whirled like dispersing smoke, and the
three or four people on the beach were staring
up with interrogative faces towards the point
of that unexpected report. And that was all !
Boots and waiter and the four young men in
262 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
blazers came rushing out behind me. Shouts
came from windows and doors, and all sorts
of worrying people came into sight — agape.
For a time I stood there, too overwhelmed
by this new development to think of the people.
At first I was too stunned to see the thing
as any definite disaster — I was just stunned,
as a man is by some accidental violent blow.
It is only afterwards he begins to appreciate
his specific injury.
" Good Lord ! "
I felt as though somebody was pouring funk
out of a can down the back of my neck. My
legs became feeble. I had got the first intima-
tion of what the disaster meant for me. There
was that confounded boy — sky high ! I was
utterly ''left." There was the gold in the
coffee-room — my only possession on earth.
How would it all work out.'* The general effect
was of a gigantic unmanageable confusion.
*' I say," said the voice of the little man
behind. ** I say, you know."
I wheeled about, and there were twenty or
thirty people, a sort of irregular investment
of people, all bombarding me with dumb in-
terrogation, with infinite doubt and suspicion.
I felt the compulsion of their eyes intolerably.
I groaned aloud.
MR. BEDFORD AT LITTLESTONE 263
''I can't I'' I shouted. '' I tell you I can't!
Fm not equal to it ! You must puzzle and —
and be damned to you ! "
I gesticulated convulsively. He receded a
step as though I had threatened him. I made
a bolt through them into the hotel. I charged
back into the coffee-room, rang the bell furi-
ously. I gripped the waiter as he entered.
'' D'ye hear ? " I shouted. " Get help and carry
these bars up to my room right away."
He failed to understand me, and I shouted
and raved at him. A scared-looking little old
man in a green apron appeared, and further
two of the young men in flannels. I made a
dash at them and commandeered their ser-
vices. As soon as the gold was in my room
I felt free to quarrel. "Now get out," I
shouted ; '* all of you get out if you don't
want to see a man go mad before your eyes ! "
And I helped the waiter by the shoulder as
he hesitated in the doorway. And then, as
soon as I had the door locked on them all,
I tore off the little man's clothes again, shied
them right and left, and got into bed forthwith.
And there I lay swearing and panting and
cooling for a very long time.
At last I was calm enough to get out of bed
and ring up the round-eyed waiter for a flannel
264 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
nightshirt, a soda and whisky, and some good
cigars. And these things being procured me,
after an exasperating delay that drove me
several times to the bell, I locked the door
again and proceeded very deliberately to look
the entire situation in the face.
The net result of the great experiment pre-
sented itself as an absolute failure. It was a
rout, and I was the sole survivor. It was an
absolute collapse, and this was the final dis-
aster. There was nothing for it but to save
myself, and as much as I could in the way
of prospects from our ddbdcle. At one fatal
crowning blow all my vague resolutions of
return and recovery had vanished. My in-
tention of going back to the moon, of getting
a sphereful of gold, and afterwards of having
a fragment of Cavorite analysed and so reco-
vering the great secret — perhaps, finally, even
of recovering Cavor's body — all these ideas
I was the sole survivor, and that was all.
I think that going to bed was one of the
luckiest ideas I have ever had in an emer-
gency. I really believe I should either have
got loose-headed or done some fatal, indiscreet
thing. But there, locked in and secure from
MR. BEDFORD AT LITTLESTONE 265
all interruption, I could think out the position
in all its bearings and make my arrangements
Of course it was quite clear to me what had
happened to the boy. He had crawled into
the sphere, meddled with the studs, shut the
Cavorite windows, and gone up. It was highly
improbable he had screwed in the manhole
stopper, and, even if he had, the chances were
a thousand to one against his getting back. It
was fairly evident that he would gravitate with
my bales to somewhere near the middle of the
sphere and remain there, and so cease to be a
legitimate terrestrial interest, however remark-
able he might seem to the inhabitants of some
remote quarter of space. I very speedily con-
vinced myself on that point. And as for any
responsibility I might have in the matter, the
more I reflected upon that, the clearer it be-
came that if only I kept quiet about things, I
need not trouble myself about that. If I was
faced by sorrowing parents demanding their
lost boy, I had merely to demand my lost
sphere— or ask them what they meant. At first
I had had a vision of weeping parents and
guardians, and all sorts of complications ; but
now I saw that I simply had to keep my mouth
shut, and nothing in that way could arise.
266 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
And, indeed, the more I lay and smoked and
thought, the more evident became the wisdom
It is within the right of every British citizen,
provided he does not commit damage nor, in-
decorum, to appear suddenly wherever he
pleases, and as ragged and filthy as he pleases,
and with whatever amount of virgin gold he
sees fit to encumber himself, and no one has
any right at all to hinder and detain him in
this procedure. I formulated that at last to
myself, and repeated it over as a sort of private
Magna Charta of my liberty.
Once I had put that issue on one side, I
could take up and consider in an equable
manner certain considerations I had scarcely
dared to think of before, namely, those arising
out of the circumstances of my bankruptcy.
Biijt now, looking at this matter calmly and at
leisure, I could see that if only I suppressed
my identity by a temporary assumption of
some less well-known name, and if I retained
the two months' beard that had grown upon
me, the risks of any annoyance from the spite-
ful creditor to whom I have already alluded
became very small indeed. From that to a
definite course of rational worldly action was
plain sailing. It was all amazingly petty, no
MR. BEDFORD AT LITTLESTONE 267
doubt, but what was there remaining for me
Whatever I did I was resolved that I would
keep myself level and right side up.
I ordered up writing materials, and addressed
a letter to the New Romney Bank — the nearest,
the waiter informed me — telling the manager I
wished to open an account with him, and re-
questing him to send two trustworthy persons
properly authenticated in a cab with a good
horse to fetch some hundredweight of gold
with which I happened to be encumbered. I
signed the letter *' Blake," which seemed to me
to be a thoroughly respectable sort of name.
This done, I got a Folkestone Blue Book,
picked out an outfitter, and asked him to send
a cutter to measure me for a drab tweed suit,
ordering at the same time a valise, dressing
bag, brown boots, shirts, hats (to fit), and so
forth ; and from a watchmaker I also ordered a
watch. And these letters being despatched, I
had up as good a lunch as the hotel could give,
and then lay smoking a cigar, as calm and
ordinary as possible, until in accordance with
my instructions two duly authenticated clerks
came from the bank and weighed and took
away my gold. After which I pulled the
clothes over my ears in order to drown any
268 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
knocking, and went very comfortably to
I went to sleep. No doubt it was a prosaic
thing for the first man back from the moon to
do, and I can imagine that the young and
imaginative reader will find my behaviour dis-
appointing. But I was horribly fatigued and
bothered, and, confound it ! what else was
there to do ? There certainly was not the
remotest chance of my being believed, if I had
told my story then, and it would certainly have
subjected me to intolerable annoyances. I
went to sleep. When at last I woke up again
I was ready to face the world, as I have always
been accustomed to face it since I came to
years of discretion. And so I got away to
Italy, and there it is I am writing this story.
If the world will not have it as fact, then the
world may take it as fiction. It is no concern
And now that the account is finished, I am
amazed to think how completely this adven-
ture is gone and done with. Everybody be-
lieves that Cavor was a not very brilliant
scientific experimenter who blew up his house
and himself at Lympne, and they explain the
bang that followed my arrival at Littlestone by
a reference to the experiments with explosives
MR. BEDFORD AT LITTLESTONE 269
that are going on continually at the govern-
ment establishment of Lydd, two miles away.
I must confess that hitherto I have not ac-
knowledged my share in the disappearance
of Master Tommy Simmons, which was that
little boy's name. That, perhaps, may prove a
difficult item of corroboration to explain away.
They account for my appearance in rags with
two bars of indisputable gold upon the Little-
stone beach in various ingenious ways — it
doesn't worry me what they think of me.
They say I have strung all these things to-
gether to avoid being questioned too closely
as to the source of my wealth. I would like
to see the man who could invent a story that
would hold together like this one. Well, they
must take it as fiction — there it is.
I have told my story — and now I suppose I
have to take up the worries of this terrestrial
life again. Even if one has been to the moon,
one has still to earn a living. So I am work-
ing here at Amalfi, on the scenario of that play
I sketched before Cavor came walking into my
world, and I am trying to piece my life together
as it was before ever I saw him. I must confess
that I find it hard to keep my mind on the play
when the moonshine comes into my room. It
is full moon here, and last night I was out on
270 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
the pergola for hours, staring away at that
shining blankness that hides so much. Ima-
gine it ! tables and chairs, and trestles and
bars of gold ! Confound it ! — if only one could
hit on that Cavorite again ! But a thing like
that doesn't come twice in a life. Here I am,
a little better off than I was at Lympne, and
that is all. And Cavor has committed suicide
in a more elaborate way than any human being
ever did before. So the story closes as finally
and completely as a dream. It fits in so little
with all the other things of life, so much of it
is so utterly remote from all human experience,
the leaping, the eating, the breathing, and these
weightless times, that indeed there are moments
when, in spite of my moon gold, I do more
than half believe myself that the whole thing
was a dream. . . .
THE ASTONISHING COMMUNICATION OF MR.
When I had finished my account of my return
to the earth at Littlestone I wrote, " The End,"
made a flourish, and threw my pen aside, fully
believing that the whole story of the First Men
in the Moon was done. Not only had I done
this, but I had placed my manuscript in the
hands of a literary agent, had permitted it to be
sold, had seen the greater portion of it appear
in the Strand Magazine, and was setting to
work again upon the scenario of the play I had
commenced at Lympne before I realised that
the end was not yet. And then, following me
from Amalfi to Algiers, there reached me (it is
now about six months ago) one of the most
astounding communications I have ever been
fated to receive. Briefly, it informed me that
Mr. Julius Wendigee, a Dutch electrician, who
has been experimenting with certain apparatus
akin to the apparatus used by Mr. Tesla in
272 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
America, in the hope of discovering some
method of communication with Mars, was re-
ceiving day by day a curiously fragmentary
message in English, which was indisputably
emanating from Mr. Cavor in the moon.
At first I thought the thing was an elaborate
practical joke by some one who had seen the
manuscript of my narrative. I answered Mr.
Wendigee jestingly, but he replied in a manner
that put such suspicion altogether aside, and in
a state of inconceivable excitement I hurried
from Algiers to the little observatory upon the
St. Gothard in which he was working. In
the presence of his record and his appliances —
and above all of the messages from Cavor
that were coming to hand — my lingering doubts
vanished. I decided at once to accept a pro-
posal he made me to remain with him, assisting
him to take down the record from day to day,
and endeavouring with him to send a message
back to the moon. Cavor, we learnt, was not
only alive but free, in the midst of an almost
inconceivable community of these ant -like
beings, these ant-men, in the blue darkness
of the lunar caves. He was lamed, it seemed,
but otherwise in quite good health — in better
health, he distinctly said, than he usually en-
joyed on earth. He had had a fever, but it
THE ASTONISHING COMMUNICATION 273
had left no bad effects. But curiously enough
he seemed to be labouring under a conviction
that I was either dead in the moon crater or
lost in the deep of space.
His message began to be received by Mr.
Wendigee when that gentleman was engaged
in quite a different investigation. The reader
will no doubt recall the little excitement that
began the century, arising out of an announce-
ment by Mr. Nikola Tesla, the American
electrical celebrity, that he had received a
message from Mars. His announcement re-
newed attention to a fact that had long been
familiar to scientific people, namely : that from
some unknown source in space, waves of elec-
tro-magnetic disturbance, entirely similar to
those used by Signor Marconi for his wireless
telegraphy, are constantly reaching the earth.
Besides Mr. Tesla quite a number of other
observers have been engaged in perfecting
apparatus for receiving and recording these
vibrations, though few would go so far as to
consider them actual messages from some extra-
terrestrial sender. Among that few, however,
we must certainly count Mr. Wendigee. Ever
since 1898 he had devoted himself almost en-
tirely to this subject, and being a man of ample
means he had erected an observatory on the
274 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
flanks of Monte Rosa, in a position singularly-
adapted in every way for such observations.
My scientific attainments, I must admit, are
not great, but so far as they enable me to
judge, Mr. Wendigee's contrivances for de-
tecting and recording any disturbances in the
electro-magnetic conditions of space are singu-
larly original and ingenious. And by a happy
combination of circumstances they were set up
and in operation about two months before
Cavor made his first attempt to call up the
earth. Consequently we have fragments of
his communication even from the beginning.
Unhappily, they are only fragments, and the
most momentous of all the things that he had
to tell humanity — the instructions, that is, for
the making of Cavorite, if, indeed, he ever
transmitted them — have throbbed themselves
away unrecorded into space. We never suc-
ceeded in getting a response back to Cavor.
He was unable to tell, therefore, what we had
received or what we had missed ; nor, indeed,
did he certainly know that any one on earth
was really aware of his efforts to reach us.
And the persistence he displayed in sending
eighteen long descriptions of lunar affairs — as
they would be if we had them complete — s]iows
how much his mind must have turned back
THE ASTONISHING COMMUNICATION 275
towards his native planet since he left it two
You can imagine how amazed Mr. Wendigee
must have been when he discovered his record
of electro-magnetic disturbances interlaced by
Cavor's straightforward English. Mr. Wendi-
gee knew nothing of our wild journey moon-
ward, and suddenly — this English out of the
It is well the reader should understand the
conditions under which it would seem these
messages were sent. Somewhere within the
moon Cavor certainly had access for a time to
a considerable amount of electrical apparatus,
and it would seem he rigged up — perhaps
furtively — a transmitting arrangement of the
Marconi type. This he was able to operate
at irregular intervals : sometimes for only half-
an-hour or so, sometimes for three or four
hours at a stretch. At these times he trans-
mitted his earthward message, regardless of
the fact that the relative position of the moon
and points upon the earth's surface is con-
stantly altering. As a consequence of this and
of the necessary imperfections of our recording
instruments his communication comes and goes
in our records in an extremely fitful manner ; it
becomes blurred ; it ** fades out " in a mys-
276 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
terious and altogether exasperating way. And
added to this is the fact that he was not an
expert operator; he had partly forgotten, or
never completely mastered, the code in general
use, and as he became fatigued he dropped
words and misspelt in a curious manner.
Altogether we have probably lost quite half
of the communications he made, and much we
have is damaged, broken, and partly effaced.
In the abstract that follows the reader must be
prepared therefore for a considerable amount
of break, hiatus, and change of topic. Mr.
Wendigee and I are collaborating in a com-
plete and annotated edition of the Cavor
record, which we hope to publish, together
with a detailed account of the instruments
employed, beginning with the first volume in
January next. That will be the full and scien-
tific report, of which this is only the popular
first transcript. But here we give at least
sufficient to complete the story I have told,
and to give the broad outlines of the state of
that other world so near, so akin, and yet so
dissimilar to our own.
AN ABSTRACT OF THE SIX MESSAGES FIRST
RECEIVED FROM MR. CAVOR
The two earlier messages of Mr. Cavor may
very well be reserved for that larger volume.
They simply tell, with greater brevity and with
a difference in several details that is interesting,
but not of any vital importance, the bare facts
of the making of the sphere and our departure
from the world. Throughout, Cavor speaks of
me as a man who is dead, but with a curious
change of temper as he approaches our landing
on the moon. " Poor Bedford," he says of me,
and ** this poor young man " ; and he blames
himself for inducing a young man, " by no
means well equipped for such adventures," to
leave a planet **on which he was indisputably
fitted to succeed " on so precarious a mission.
I think he underrates the part my energy and
practical capacity played in bringing about the
realisation of his theoretical sphere. "We
arrived," he says, with no more account of our
278 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
passage through space than if we had made a
journey of common occurrence in a railway train.
And then he becomes increasingly unfair to
me. Unfair, indeed, to an extent I should not
have expected in a man trained in the search
for truth. Looking back over my previously
written account of these things, I must insist
that I have been altogether juster to Cavor
than he has been to me. I have extenu-
ated little and suppressed nothing. But his
account is : —
"It speedily became apparent that the entire
strangeness of our circumstances and surround-
ings — great loss of weight, attenuated but
highly oxygenated air, consequent exaggera-
tion of the results of muscular effort, rapid
development of weird plants from obscure
spores, lurid sky — was exciting my companion
unduly. On the moon his character seemed
to deteriorate. He became impulsive, rash,
and quarrelsome. In a little while his folly
in devouring some gigantic vesicles and his
consequent intoxication led to our capture
by the Selenites — before we had had the
slightest opportunity of properly observing
their ways. ..."
(He says, you observe, nothing of his own
concession to these same "vesicles.")
ABSTRACT OF THE SIX MESSAGES 279
And he goes on from that point to say that
**We came to a difficult passage with them,
and Bedford mistaking certain gestures of
theirs" — pretty gestures they were! — ''gave
way to a panic violence. He ran amuck,
killed three, and perforce I had to flee with
him after the outrage. Subsequently we
fought with a number who endeavoured to
bar our way, and slew seven or eight more.
It says much for the tolerance of these beings
that on my recapture I was not instantly slain.
We made our way to the exterior and sepa-
rated in the crater of our arrival, to increase
our chances of recovering our sphere. But
presently I came upon a body of Selenites, led
by two who were curiously different, even in
form, from any of those we had seen hitherto,
with larger heads and smaller bodies, and
much more elaborately wrapped about. And
after evading them for some time I fell into
a crevasse, cut my head rather badly and
displaced my patella, and, finding crawling
very painful, decided to surrender — if they
would still permit me to do so. This they
did, and, perceiving my helpless condition,
carried me with them again into the moon.
And of Bedford I have heard or seen nothing
more, nor, so far as I can gather, has any
28o THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
Selenite. Either the night overtook him in
the crater, or else, which is more probable,
he found the sphere, and, desiring to steal a
march upon me, made off with it — only, I fear,
to find it uncontrollable, and to meet a more
lingering fate in outer space."
And with that Cavor dismisses me and goes
on to more interesting topics. I dislike the
idea of seeming to use my position as his editor
to deflect his story in my own interest, but
I am obliged to protest here against the turn
he gives these occurrences. He says nothing
about that gasping message on the blood-
stained paper in which he told, or attempted
to tell, a very different story. The dignified
self-surrender is an altogether new view of the
affair that has come to him, I must insist, since
he began to feel secure among the lunar people ;
and as for the ''stealing a march" conception,
I am quite willing to let the reader decide be-
tween us on what he has before him. I know
I am not a model man — I have made no
pretence to be. But am I ;(ka^ 9
However, that is the sum of my wrongs.
From this point I can edit Cavor with an
untroubled mind, for he mentions me no
It would seem the Selenites who had come
ABSTRACT OF THE SIX MESSAGES 281
upon him carried him to some point in the
interior down **a great shaft" by means of
what he describes as "a sort of balloon." We
gather from the rather confused passage in
which he describes this, and from a number of
chance allusions and hints in other and subse-
quent messages, that this ** great shaft" is one
of an enormous system of artificial shafts that
run, each from what is called a lunar ** crater,"
downwards for very nearly a hundred miles
towards the central portion of our satellite.
These shafts communicate by transverse tun-
nels, they throw out abysmal caverns and
expand into great globular places ; the whole
of the moon's substance for a hundred miles
inward, indeed, is a mere sponge of rock.
*' Partly," says Cavor, ''this sponginess is
natural, but very largely it is due to the enor-
mous industry of the Selenites in the past.
The enormous circular mounds of the exca-
vated rock and earth it is that form these great
circles about the tunnels known to earthly
astronomers (misled by a false analogy) as
It was down this shaft they took him, in
this ''sort of balloon" he speaks of, at first
into an inky blackness and then into a re-
gion of continually increasing phosphorescence.
282 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
Cavor's despatches show him to be curiously
regardless of detail for a scientific man, but
we gather that this light was due to the
streams and cascades of water — ** no doubt
containing some phosphorescent organism"
— that flowed ever more abundantly down-
ward towards the Central Sea. And as he
descended, he says, " The Selenites also be-
came luminous." And at last far below him
he saw, as it were, a lake of heatless fire, the
waters of the Central Sea, glowing and eddy-
ing in strange perturbation, "like luminous
blue milk that is just on the boil."
** This Lunar Sea," says Cavor, in a later
passage, " is not a stagnant ocean ; a solar tide
sends it in a perpetual flow around the lunar
axis, and strange storms and boilings and rush-
ings of its waters occur, and at times cold winds
and thunderings that ascend out of it into the
busy ways of the great ant-hill above. It is
only when the water is in motion that it gives
out light ; in its rare seasons of calm it is black.
Commonly, when one sees it, its waters rise and
fall in an oily swell, and flakes and big rafts of
shining, bubbly foam drift with the sluggish,
faintly glowing current. The Selenites navigate
its cavernous straits and lagoons in little shallow
boats of a canoe-like shape ; and even before
ABSTRACT OF THE SIX MESSAGES 283
my journey to the galleries about the Grand
Lunar, who is Master of the Moon, I was per-
mitted to make a brief excursion on its waters.
*' The caverns and passages are naturally very
tortuous. A large proportion of these ways are
known only to expert pilots among the fisher-
men, and not infrequently Selenites are lost for
ever in their labyrinths. In their remoter re-
cesses, I am told, strange creatures lurk, some
of them terrible and dangerous creatures that
all the science of the moon has been unable to
exterminate. There is particularly the Rapha,
an inextricable mass of clutching tentacles that
one hacks to pieces only to multiply ; and the
Tzee, a darting creature that is never seen, so
subtly and suddenly does it slay. ..."
He gives us a gleam of description.
** I was reminded on this excursion of what I
have read of the Mammoth Caves ; if only I had
had a yellow flambeau instead of the pervading
blue light, and a solid-looking boatman with an
oar instead of a scuttle-faced Selenite working
an engine at the back of the canoe, I could have
imagined I had suddenly got back lo earth.
The rocks about us were very various, some-
times black, sometimes pale blue and veined,
and once they flashed and glittered as though
we had come into a mine of sapphires. And
284 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
below one saw the ghostly phosphorescent
fishes flash and vanish in the hardly less phos-
phorescent deep. Then, presently, a long ultra-
marine vista down the turgid stream of one of
the channels of traffic, and a landing-stage,
and then, perhaps, a glimpse up the enormous
crowded shaft of one of the vertical ways.
** In one great place heavy with glistening
stalactites a number of boats were fishing. We
went alongside one of these and watched the
long-armed fishing Selenites winding in a net.
They were little, hunchbacked insects, with very
strong arms, short, bandy legs, and crinkled
face-masks. As they pulled at it that net
seemed the heaviest thing I had come upon
in the moon ; it was loaded with weights — no
doubt of gold — and it took a long time to draw,
for in those waters the larger and more edible
fish lurk deep. The fish in the net came up
like a blue moonrise — a blaze of darting, tossing
" Among their catch was a many-tentaculate,
evil-eyed black thing, ferociously active, whose
appearance they greeted with shrieks and twit-
ters, and which with quick, nervous movements
they hacked to pieces by means of little hatchets.
All its dissevered limbs continued to lash and
writhe in a vicious manner. Afterwards, when
ABSTRACT OF THE SIX MESSAGES 285
fever had hold of me, I dreamt again and again
of that bitter, furious creature rising so vigorous
and active out of the unknown sea. It was the
most active and malignant thing of all the living
creatures I have yet seen in this world inside
the moon. . . .
" The surface of this sea must be very nearly
two hundred miles (if not more) below the level
of the moon's exterior ; all the cities of the moon
lie, I learnt, immediately above this Central Sea,
in such cavernous spaces and artificial galleries
as I have described, and they communicate with
the exterior by enormous vertical shafts which
open invariably in what are called by earthly
astronomers the * craters ' of the moon. The
lid covering one such aperture I had already
seen during the wanderings that had preceded
" Upon the condition of the less central
portion of the moon I have not yet arrived
at very precise knowledge. There is an enor-
mous system of caverns in which the moon-
calves shelter during the night ; and there are
abattoirs and the like — in one of these it was
that I and Bedford fought with the Selenite
butchers — and I have since seen balloons laden
with meat descending out of the upper dark.
286 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
I have as yet scarcely learnt as much of these
things as a Zulu In London would learn about
the British corn supplies In the same time. It
is clear, however, that these vertical shafts and
the vegetation of the surface must play an
essential role in ventilating and keeping fresh
the atmosphere of the moon. At one time,
and particularly on my first emergence from
my prison, there was certainly a cold wind
blowing down the shaft, and later there was
a kind of sirocco upward that corresponded
with my fever. ForJ at the end of about three
weeks I fell ill of an indefinable sort of fever,
and in spite of sleep and the quinine tabloids
that very fortunately I had brought in my
pocket, I remained ill and fretting miserably,
almost to the time when I was taken into the
presence of the Grand Lunar, who is Master of
" I will not dilate on the wretchedness of
my condition," he remarks, "during those days
of ill-health." And he goes on with great
amplitude with details I omit here. " My
temperature," he concludes, **kept abnormally
high for a long time, and I lost all desire
for food. I had stagnant waking Intervals,
and sleep tormented by dreams, and at one
phase I was, I remember, so weak as to be
ABSTRACT OF THE SIX MESSAGES 287
earth-sick and almost hysterical. I longed
almost intolerably for colour to break the
everlasting blue. . . ."
He reverts again presently to the topic of
this sponge caught lunar atmosphere. I am
told by astronomers and physicists that all he
tells is in absolute accordance with what was
already known of the moon's condition. Had
earthly astronomers had the courage and
imagination to push home a bold induction,
says Mr. Wendigee, they might have foretold
almost everything that Cavor has to say of
the general structure of the moon. They
know now pretty certainly that moon and
earth are not so much satellite and primary
as smaller and greater sisters, made out of
one mass, and consequently made of the
same material. And since the density of the
moon is only thre©-fifths that of the earth,
there can be nothing for it but that she is
hollowed out by a great system of caverns.
There was no necessity, said Sir Jabez Flap,
F.R.S., that most entertaining exponent of
the facetious side of the stars, that we should
ever have gone to the moon to find out such
easy inferences, and points the pun with an
allusion to Gruyere, but he certainly might
have announced his knowledge of the hollow-
288 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
ness of the moon before. And if the moon
is hollow, then the apparent absence of air
and water is, of course, quite easily explained.
The sea lies within at the bottom of the
caverns, and the air travels through the great
sponge of galleries, in accordance with simple
physical laws. The caverns of the moon, on
the whole, are very windy places. As the
sunlight comes round the moon the air in
the outer galleries on that side is heated, its
pressure increases, some flows out on the
exterior and mingles with the evaporating air
of the craters (where the plants remove its
carbonic acid), while the greater portion flows
round through the galleries to replace the
shrinking air of the cooling side that the sun-
light has left. There is, therefore, a constant
eastward breeze in the air of the outer galleries,
and an up-flow during the lunar day up the
shafts, complicated, of course, very greatly by
the varying shape of the galleries, and the in-
genious contrivances of the Selenite mind. . , .
THE NATURAL HISTORY OF THE SELENITES
The messages of Cavor from the sixth up to
the sixteenth are for the most part so much
broken, and they abound so in repetitions, that
they scarcely form a consecutive narrative.
They will be given in full, of course, in the
scientific report, but here it will be far more
convenient to continue simply to abstract and
quote as in the former chapter. We have
subjected every word to a keen critical scrutiny,
and my own brief memories and impressions
of lunar things have been of inestimable help
in interpreting what would otherwise have been
impenetrably dark. And, naturally, as living
beings our interest centres far more upon the
strange community of lunar insects in which he
was living, it would seem, as an honoured guest
than upon the mere physical condition oi their
I have already made it clear, I think, that
the Selenites I saw resembled man in main-
290 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
taining the erect attitude, and in having four
limbs, and I have compared the general ap-
pearance of their heads and the jointing of
their limbs to that of insects. I have men-
tioned, too, the peculiar consequence of the
smaller gravitation of the moon on their fragile
slightness. Cavor confirms me upon all these
points. He calls them ''animals," though of
course they fall under no division of the classi-
fication of earthly creatures, and he points out
"the insect type of anatomy had, fortunately
for men, never exceeded a relatively very small
size on earth." The largest terrestrial insects,
living or extinct, do not, as a matter of fact,
measure 6 in. in length ; ** but here, against
the lesser gravitation of the moon, a creature
certainly as much an insect as vertebrate seems
to have been able to attain to human and
He does not mention the ant, but through-
out his allusions the ant is continually being
brought before my mind, in its sleepless
activity, in its intelligence and social organisa-
tion, in its structure, and more particularly
in the fact that it displays, in addition to the
two forms, the male and the female form, that
almost all other animals possess, a number of
other sexless creatures, workers, soldiers, and
NATURAL HISTORY OF SELENITES 291
the like, differing from one another in struc-
ture, character, power, and use, and yet all
members of the same species. For these
Selenites, also, have a great variety of forms.
Of course they are not only colossally greater
in size than ants, but also, in Cavor's opinion
at least, in intelligence, morality, and social
wisdom are they colossally greater than men.
And instead of the four or five different
forms of ant that are found, there are almost
innumerably different forms of Selenite. I
have endeavoured to indicate the very con-
siderable difference observable in such Selen-
ites of the outer crust as I happened to
encounter ; the differences in size and propor-
tions were certainly as wide as the differences
between the most widely separated races of
men. But such differences as I saw fade abso-
lutely to nothing in comparison with the huge
distinctions of which Cavor tells. It would
seem the exterior Selenites I saw were, indeed,
mostly engaged in kindred occupations — moon-
calf herds, butchers, fleshers, and the like.
But within the moon, practically unsuspected
by me, there are, it seems, a number of other
sorts of Selenite, differing in size, differing in
the relative size of part to part, differing in
power and appearance, and yet not different
292 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
species of creatures, but only different forms
of one species, and retaining through all their
variations a certain common likeness that
marks their specific unity. The moon is,
indeed, a sort of vast ant-hill, only, instead of
there being only four or five sorts of ant,
there are many hundred different sorts of
Selenite, and almost every gradation between
one sort and another.
It would seem the discovery came upon
Cavor very speedily. I infer rather than learn
from his narrative that he was captured by the
mooncalf herds under the direction of those
other Selenites who ''have larger brain cases
(heads ?) and very much shorter legs." Find-
ing he would not walk even under the goad,
they carried him into darkness, crossed a
narrow, plank-like bridge that may have been
the identical bridge I had refused, and put
him down in something that must have seemed
at first to be some sort of lift. This was the
balloon — it had certainly been absolutely in-
visible to us in the darkness — and what had
seemed to me a mere plank-walking into the
void was really, no doubt, the passage of the
gangway. In this he descended towards con-
stantly more luminous caverns of the moon.
At first they descended in silence — save for
" They carried him into darkness
NATURAL HISTORY OF SELENITES 293
the twitterings of the Selenites — and then into
a stir of windy movement. In a little while
the profound blackness had made his eyes so
sensitive that he began to see more and more
of the things about him, and at last the vague
''Conceive an enormous cylindrical space,"
says Cavor in his seventh message, '*a quarter
of a mile across, perhaps ; very dimly lit at
first and then brighter, with bigplatforms twist-
ing down its sides in a spiral that vanishes at
last below in a blue profundity ; and lit even
more brightly — one could not tell how or why.
Think of the well of the very largest spiral
staircase or lift-shaft that you have ever looked
down, and magnify that by a hundred. Ima-
gine it at twilight seen through blue glass.
Imagine yourself looking down that ; only
imagine also that you feel extraordinarily light,
and have got rid of any giddy feeling you
might have on earth, and you will have the
first conditions of my impression. Round this
enormous shaft imagine a broad gallery run-
ning in a much steeper spiral than would be
credible on earth, and forming a steep road
protected from the gulf only by a little parapet
that vanishes at last in perspective a couple of
294 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
** Looking up, I saw the very fellow of the
downward vision ; it had, of course, the effect
of looking into a very steep cone. A wind
was blowing down the shaft, and far above
I fancy I heard, growing fainter and fainter,
the bellowing of the mooncalves that were
being driven down again from their even-
ing pasturage on the exterior. And up and
down the spiral galleries were scattered nume-
rous moon people, pallid, faintly self-luminous
beings, regarding our appearance or busied
on unknown errands.
" Either I fancied it or a flake of snow
came drifting down on the icy breeze. And
then, falling Hke a snowflake, a little figure,
a little man-insect clinging to a parachute,
drove down very swiftly towards the central
places of the moon.
**The big-headed Selenite sitting beside
me, seeing me move my head with the ges-
ture of one who saw, pointed with his trunk-
like * hand *and indicated a sort of jetty coming
into sight very far below : a little landing-
stage, as it were, hanging into the void. As
it swept up towards us our pace diminished
very rapidly, and In a few moments, as it
seemed, we were abreast of it and at rest. A
moorlng-rope was flung and grasped, and I
NATURAL HISTORY OF SELENITES 295
found myself pulled down to a level with a
great crowd of Selenites, who jostled to
** It was an incredible crowd. Suddenly and
violently there was forced upon my attention
the vast amount of difference there is amongst
these beings of the moon.
** Indeed, there seemed not two alike in all
that jostling multitude. They differed in
shape, they differed in size, they rang all the
horrible changes on the theme of Selenite form!
Some bulged and overhung, some ran about
among the feet of their fellows. All of them
had a grotesque and disquieting suggestion
of an insect that has somehow contrived to
mock humanity ; but all seemed to present
an incredible exaggeration of some particular
feature : one had a vast right fore-limb, an
enormous antennal arm, as it were ; one
seemed all leg, poised, as it were, on stilts ;
another protruded the edge of his face mask
into a nose-like organ that made him start-
lingly human until one saw his expressionless
gaping mouth. The strange and (except for
the want of mandibles and palps) most insect-
like head of the mooncalf-minders underwent,
indeed, the most incredible transformations :
here it was broad and low, here high and
296 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
narrow ; here its leathery brow was drawn
out into horns and strange features ; here it
was whiskered and divided, and there with a
grotesquely human profile. One distortion was
particularly conspicuous. There were several
brain cases distended like bladders to a huge
size, with the face mask reduced to quite small
proportions. There were several amazing
forms, with heads reduced to microscopic pro-
portions and blobby bodies ; and fantastic,
flimsy things that existed, it would seem, only
as a basis for vast, trumpet-like protrusions
of the lower part of the mask. And oddest of
all, as it seemed to me for the moment, two
or three of these weird inhabitants of a sub-
terranean world, a world sheltered by innumer-
able miles of rock from sun or rain, carried
umbrellas in their tentaculate hands ! — real ter-
restrial-looking umbrellas ! And then I thought
of the parachutist I had watched descend.
" These moon people behaved exactly as a
human crowd might have done in similar cir-
cumstances : they jostled and thrust one an-
other, they shoved one another aside, they even
clambered upon one another to get a glimpse
of me. Every moment they increased in num-
bers, and pressed more urgently upon the discs
of my ushers" — Cavor does not explain what
NATURAL HISTORY OF SELENITES 297
he means by this — ** every moment fresh shapes
emerged from the shadows and forced them-
selves upon my astounded attention. And
presently I was signed and helped into a sort
of litter, and lifted up on the shoulders of
strong-armed bearers, and so borne through
the twilight over this seething multitude to-
wards the apartments that were provided for
me in the moon. All about me were eyes,
faces, masks, a leathery noise like the rustling
of beetle wings, and a great bleating and
cricket-like twittering of Selenite voices. . . ."
We gather he was taken to a ** hexagonal
apartment," and there for a space he was con-
fined. Afterwards he was given a much more
considerable liberty ; indeed, almost as much
freedom as one has in a civilised town on
earth. And it would appear that the mys-
terious being who is the ruler and master of
the moon appointed two Selenites *' with large
heads " to guard and study him, and to estab-
lish whatever mental communications were pos-
sible with him. And, amazing and incredible
as it may seem, these two creatures, these
fantastic men-insects, these beings of another
world, were presently communicating with
Cavor by means of terrestrial speech.
298 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
Cavor speaks of them as PhI~oo and Tsi-puff.
Phi-oo, he says, was about 5 ft. high ; he had
small, slender legs about 18 in. long, and slight
feet of the common lunar pattern. On these
balanced a little body, throbbing with the
pulsations of his heart. He had long, soft,
many-jointed arms ending in a tentacled grip,
and his neck was many-jointed in the usual
way, but exceptionally short and thick. His
head, says Cavor — apparently alluding to some
previous description that has gone astray in
space — ** is of the common lunar type, but
strangely modified. The mouth has the usual
expressionless gape, but it is unusually small
and pointing downward, and the mask is re-
duced to the size of a large flat nose-flap. On
either side are the little eyes.
** The rest of the head is distended into a
huge globe, and the chitinous leathery cuticle
of the mooncalf herds thins out to a mere
membrane, through which the pulsating brain
movements are distinctly visible. He is a
creature, indeed, with a tremendously hyper-
trophied brain, and with the rest of his organism
both relatively and absolutely dwarfed."
In another passage Cavor compares the
back view of him to Atlas supporting the
world. Tsi-puff, it seems, was a very similar I
NATURAL HISTORY OF SELENITES 299
insect, but his **face" was drawn out to a
considerable length, and the brain hypertrophy-
being in different regions, his head was not
round but pear-shaped, with the stalk down-
ward. There were also litter-carriers, lop-sided
beings with enormous shoulders, very spidery
ushers, and a squat foot attendant in Cavor's
The manner in which Phi-oo and Tsi-purf
attacked the problem of speech was fairly ob-
vious. They came into this ''hexagonal cell "
in which Cavor was confined, and began imitat-
ing every sound he made, beginning with a
cough. He seems to have grasped their in-
tention with great quickness, and to have
begun repeating words to them and pointing
to indicate the application. The procedure
was probably always the same. Phi-oo would
attend to Cavor for a space, then point also
and say the word he had heard.
The first word he mastered was *' man," and
the second "Mooney" — which Cavor on the
spur of the moment seems to have used instead
of '* Selenite " for the moon race. As soon as
Phi-oo was assured of the meaning of a word
he repeated it to Tsi-puff, who remembered
it infallibly. They mastered over one hundred
English nouns at their first session.
300 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
Subsequently it seems they brought an artist
with them to assist the work of explanation
with sketches and diagrams — Cavor's drawings
being rather crude. He was, says Cavor, "a
being with an active arm and an arresting
eye," and he seemed to draw with incredible
The eleventh message is undoubtedly only a
fragment of a longer communication.] After
some broken sentences, the record of which is
unintelligible, it goes on : —
** But it will interest only linguists, and delay
me too long, to give the details of the series of
intent parleys of which these were the begin-
ning, and, indeed, I very much doubt if I could
give in anything like the proper order all the
twistings and turnings that we made in our
pursuit of mutual comprehension. Verbs were
soon plain sailing — at least, such active verbs as
I could express by drawings ; some adjectives
were easy, but when it came to abstract nouns,
to prepositions, and the sort of hackneyed
figures of speech by means of which so much
is expressed on earth, it was like diving in
cork-jackets. Indeed, these difficulties were
insurmountable until to the sixth lesson came
a fourth assistant, a being with a huge, football-
shaped head, whose /or^e was clearly the pursuit
NATURAL HISTORY OF SELENITES 301
of Intricate analogy. He entered In a preoccu-
pied manner, stumbling against a stool, and the
difficulties that arose had to be presented to
him with a certain amount of clamour and
hitting and pricking before they reached his
apprehension. But once he was Involved his
penetration was amazing. Whenever there
came a need of thinking beyond Phi-oo's by
no means limited scope, this prolate-headed
person was In request, but he Invariably told
the conclusion to Tsl-puff, In order that it
might be remembered ; Tsl-puff was ever the
arsenal for facts. And so we advanced again.
** It seemed long and yet brief — a matter of
days before I was positively talking with these
insects of the moon. Of course, at first It was
an Intercourse Infinitely tedious and exasper-
ating, but imperceptibly it has grown to com-
prehension. And my patience has grown to
meet Its limitations. PhI-00 it is who does all
the talking. He does it with a vast amount of
meditative provisional * Mm — M'm,' and he
has caught up one or two phrases, * If I may
say,' ' If you understand,' and beads all his
speech with them.
*' Thus he would discourse. Imagine him
explaining his artist.
*' * M'm — M'm — he — If I may say — draw.
302 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
Eat little — drink little — draw. Love draw. No
other thing. Hate all who not draw like him.
Angry. Hate all who draw like him better.
Hate most people. Hate all who not think all
world for to draw. Angry. M'm. All things
mean nothing to him — only draw. He like
you ... if you understand. . . . New thing
to draw. Ugly — striking. Eh ?
** * He' — turning to Tsi-puff — iove remember
words. Remember wonderful more than any.
Think no, draw no — remember. Say ' — here
he referred to his gifted assistant for a word
— ' histories — all things. He hear once — say
''It is more wonderful to me than I dreamt
that anything ever could be again, to hear, in
this perpetual obscurity, these extraordinary
creatures — for even familiarity fails to weaken
the inhuman effect of their appearance — con-
tinually piping a nearer approach to cohe-
rent earthly speech, — asking questions, giving
answers. I feel that I am casting back to
the fable-hearing period of childhood again,
when the ant and the grasshopper talked to-
gether and the bee judged between them. . . ."
And while these linguistic exercises were
going on Cavor seems to have experienced a con-
NATURAL HISTORY OF SELENITES 303
siderable relaxation of his confinement. " The
first dread and distrust our unfortunate conflict
aroused is being," he said, ''continually effaced
by the deliberate rationality of all I do." . . .
*' I am now able to come and go as I please, or
I am restricted only for my own good. So it is
I have been able to get at this apparatus, and,
assisted by a happy find among the material
that is littered in this enormous store-cave, I
have contrived to despatch these messages. So
far not the slightest attempt has been made to
interfere with me in this, though I have made
it quite clear to Phi-00 that I am signalling to
** * You talk to other ? ' he asked, watching
'' * Others,' said I.
** * Others,' he said. * Oh yes. Men ? '
*' And I went on transmitting."
Cavor was continually making corrections in
his previous accounts of the Selenites as fresh
facts flowed in upon him to modify his conclu-
sions, and accordingly one gives the quotations
that follow with a certain amount of reservation.
They are quoted from the ninth, thirteenth, and
sixteenth messages, and, altogether vague and
fragmentary as they are, they probably give as
304 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
complete a picture of the~ social life of this
strange community as mankind can now hope
to have for many generations.
" In the moon," says Cavor, "every citizen
knows his place. He is born to that place, and
the elaborate discipline of training and educa-
tion and surgery he undergoes fits him at last
so completely to it that he has neither ideas
nor organs for any purpose beyond it. ' Why
should he ? ' Phi-oo would ask. If, for example,
a Selenite is destined to be a mathematician,
his teachers and trainers set out at once to
that end. They check any incipient disposi-
tion to other pursuits, they encourage his
mathematical bias with a perfect psychological
skill. His brain grows, or at least the mathe-
matical faculties of , his brain grow, and the rest
of him only so much as is necessary to sustain
this essential part of him. At last, save for
rest and food, his one delight lies in the exer-
cise and display of his faculty, his one interest
in its application, his sole society with other
specialists in his own line. His brain grows
continually larger, at least so far as the por-
tions engaging in mathematics are concerned ;
they bulge ever larger and seem to suck all life
and vigour from the rest of his frame. His
limbs shrivel, his heart and digestive organs
NATURAL HISTORY OF SELENITES 305
diminish, his insect face is hidden under its
bulging contours. His voice becomes a mere
stridulation for the stating of formulae ; he seems
deaf to all but properly enunciated problems.
The faculty of laughter, save for the sudden
discovery of some paradox, is lost to him ; his
deepest emotion is the evolution of a novel com-
putation. And so he attains his end.
** Or, again, a Selenite appointed to be a
minder of mooncalves is from his earliest years
induced to think and live mooncalf, to find his
pleasure in mooncalf lore, his exercise in their
tending and pursuit. He is trained to become
wiry and active, his eye is indurated to the
tight wrappings, the angular contours that con-
stitute a * smart mooncalfishness.' He takes at
last no interest in the deeper part of the moon ;
he regards all Selenites not equally versed in
mooncalves with indifference, derision, or hos-
tility. His thoughts are of mooncalf pastures,
and his dialect an accomplished mooncalf tech-
nique. So also he loves his work, and dis-
charges in perfect happiness the duty that
justifies his being. And so it is with all sorts
and conditions of Selenites — each is a perfect
unit in a world machine. . . .
" These beings with big heads, on whom the
intellectual labours fall, form a sort of aris-
3o6 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
tocracy in this strange society, and at the head
of them, quintessential of the moon, is that
marvellous gigantic ganglion the Grand Lunar,
into whose presence I am finally to come. The
unlimited development of the minds of the
intellectual class is rendered possible by the
absence of any bony skull in the lunar anatomy,
that strange box of bone that clamps about the
developing brain of man, imperiously insisting
* thus far and no farther ' to all his possibilities.
They fall into three main classes differing
greatly in influence and respect. There are
the administrators, of whom Phi-oo is one,
Selenites of considerable initiative and ver-
satility, responsible each for a certain cubic
content of the moon's bulk ; the experts like
the football-headed thinker, who are trained to
perform certain special operations ; and the
erudite, who are the repositories of all know-
ledge. To this latter class belongs Tsi-puff,
the first lunar professor of terrestrial languages.
With regard to these latter, it is a curious little
thing to note that the unlimited growth of the
lunar brain has rendered unnecessary the in-
vention of all those mechanical aids to brain
work which have distinguished the career of
man. There are no books, no records of any
sort, no libraries or inscriptions. All knowledge
NATURAL HISTORY OF SELENITES 307
is stored in distended brains much as the honey-
ants of Texas store honey in their distended
abdomens. The lunar Somerset House and
the lunar British Museum Library are collec-
tions of living brains. . . .
" The less specialised administrators, I note,
do for the most part take a very lively interest
in me whenever they encounter me. They
will come out of the way and stare at me and
ask questions to which Phi-oo will reply. I
see them going hither and thither with a retinue
of bearers, attendants, shouters, parachute-
carriers, and so forth — queer groups to see.
The experts for the most part ignore me
completely, even as they ignore each other,
or notice me only to begin a clamorous exhi-
bition of their distinctive skill. The erudite
for the most part are rapt in an impervious
and apoplectic complacency, from which only
a denial of their erudition can rouse them.
Usually they are led about by little watchers
and attendants, and often there are small and
active-looking creatures, small females usually,
that I am inclined to think are a sort of wife
to them ; but some of the profounder scholars
are altogether too great for locomotion, and
are carried from place to place in a sort of
sedan tub, wabbling jellies of knowledge that
3o8 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
enlist my respectful astonishment. I have just
passed one in coming to this place where I am
permitted to amuse myself with these electrical
toys, a vast, shaven, shaky head, bald and
thin-skinned, carried on his grotesque stretcher.
In front and behind came his bearers, and curi-
ous, almost trumpet-faced, news disseminators
shrieked his fame.
** I have already mentioned the retinues that
accompany most of the intellectuals : ushers,
bearers, valets, extraneous tentacles and mus-
cles, as it were, to replace the abortive physical
powers of these hypertrophied minds. Porters
almost invariably accompany them. There are
also extremely swift messengers with spider-
like legs, and * hands ' for grasping parachutes,
and attendants with vocal organs that could
well-nigh wake the dead. Apart from their
controlling intelligence these subordinates are
as inert and helpless as umbrellas in a stand.
They exist only in relation to the orders
they have to obey, the duties they have to
"The bulk of these insects, however, who
go to and fro upon the spiral ways, who fill the
ascending balloons and drop past me clinging
to flimsy parachutes, are, I gather, of the oper-
ative class. * Machine hands,' indeed, some of
NATURAL HISTORY OF SELENITES 309
these are in actual nature — it is no figure of
speech, the single tentacle of the mooncalf herd
is profoundly modified for clawing, lifting,
guiding, the rest of them no more than neces-
sary subordinate appendages to these important
parts. Some, who I suppose deal with bell-
striking mechanisms, have enormously de-
veloped auditory organs ; some whose work
lies in delicate chemical operations project
a vast olfactory organ ; others again have flat
feet for treadles with anchylosed joints ; and
others — who I have been told are glass-blowers
— seem mere lung-bellows. But every one of
these common Selenites I have seen at work is
exquisitely adapted to the social need it meets.
Fine work is done by fined-down workers,
amazingly dwarfed and neat. Some I could
hold on the palm of my hand. There is even
a sort of turnspit Selenite, very common, whose
duty and only delight it is to supply the motive
power for various small appliances. And to
rule over these things and order any erring
tendency there might be in some aberrant
natures are the most muscular beings I have
seen in the moon, a sort of lunar police, who
must have been trained from their earliest years
to give a perfect respect and obedience to the
3IO THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
** The making of these various sorts of
operative must be a very curious and interest-
ing process. I am still very much in the dark
about it, but quite recently I came upon a
number of young Selenites confined in jars
from which only the fore-Hmbs protruded, who
were being compressed to become machine-
minders of a special sort. The extended
'hand' in this highly developed system of
technical education is stimulated by irritants
and nourished by injection, while the rest of
the body is starved. Phi-oo, unless I mis-
understood him, explained that in the earlier
stages these queer little creatures are apt to
display signs of suffering in their various
cramped situations, but they easily become
indurated to their lot ; and he took me on to
where a number of flexible-limbed messengers
were being drawn out and broken in. It is
quite unreasonable, I know, but such glimpses of
the educational methods of these beings affect
me disagreeably. I hope, however, that may
pass off, and I may be able to see more of this
aspect of their wonderful social order. That
wretched-looking hand-tentacle sticking out of
its jar seemed to have a sort of limp appeal for
lost possibilities ; it haunts me still, although,
of course, it is really in the end a far more
NATURAL HISTORY OF SELENITES 311
humane proceeding than our earthly method of
leaving children to grow into human beings,
and then making machines of them.
'* Quite recently, too — I think it was on the
eleventh or twelfth visit I made to this appa-
ratus — I had a curious light upon the lives of
these operatives. I was being guided through
a short cut hither, instead of going down the
spiral and by the quays of the Central Sea.
From the devious windings of a long, dark
gallery we emerged into a vast, low cavern,
pervaded by an earthy smell, and, as things
go in this darkness, rather brightly lit. The
light came from a tumultuous growth of livid
fungoid shapes — some indeed singularly like
our terrestrial mushrooms, but standing as
high or higher than a man.
*' * Mooneys eat these ? " said I to Phi-00.
''* Yes, food.'
'' ' Goodness me ! ' I cried ; * what's that ? '
*' My eye had just caught the figure of an
exceptionally big and ungainly Selenite lying
motionless among the stems, face downward.
** * Dead ? ' I asked. (For as yet I have
seen no dead in the moon, and I have
'''No!' exclaimed Phi-00. * Him — worker
312 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
— no work to do. Get little drink then — make
sleep — till we him want. What good him
wake, eh ? No want him walking about.'
" * There's another ! ' cried I.
*'And indeed all that huge extent of mush-
room ground was, I found, peppered with
these prostrate figures sleeping under an
opiate until the moon had need of them.
There were scores of them of all sorts, and
we were able to turn over some of them, and
examine them more precisely than I had been
able to do previously. They breathed noisily
at my doing so, but did not wake. One I
remember very distinctly : he left a strong
impression, I think, because some trick of *^he
light and of his attitude was strongly sugges-
tive of a drawn-up human figure. His fore-
limbs were long, delicate tentacles — he was
some kind of refined manipulator — and the
pose of his slumber suggested a submissive
suffering. No doubt it was quite a mistake
for me to interpret his expression in that way,
but I did. And as Phi-oo rolled him over
into the darkness among the livid fleshiness
again I felt a distinctly unpleasant sensation,
although as he rolled the insect in him was
"It simply illustrates the unthinking way
NATURAL HISTORY OF SELENITES 313
in which one acquires habits of feeling.
To drug the worker one does not want and
toss him aside is surely far better than to
expel him from his factory to wander starving
in the streets. In every complicated social
community there is necessarily a certain inter-
mittency of employment for all specialised
labour, and in this way the trouble of an * un-
employed ' problem is altogether anticipated.
And yet, so unreasonable are even scien-
tifically trained minds, I still do not like the
memory of those prostrate forms amidst those
quiet, luminous arcades of fleshy 'growth, and
I avoid that short cut in spite of the incon-
verJences of the longer, more noisy, and more
** My alternative route takes me round by
a huge, shadowy cavern, very crowded and
clamorous, and here it is I see peering out of
the hexagonal openings of a sort of honeycomb
wall, or parading a large open space behind, or
selecting the toys and amulets made to please
them by the dainty-ten tacled jewellers who
work in kennels below, the mothers of the
moon-world — the queen bees, as it were, of the
hive. They are noble-looking beings, fantas-
tically and sometimes quite beautifully adorned,
314 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
with a proud carriage, and, save for their mouths,
almost microscopic heads.
** Of the condition of the moon sexes, marry-
ing and giving in marriage, and of birth and so
forth among the Selenites, I have as yet been
able to learn very little. With the steady pro-
gress of Phi-oo in English, however, my igno-
rance will no doubt as steadily disappear. I
am of opinion that, as with the ants and bees,
there is a large majority of the members in this
community of the neuter sex. Of course on
earth in our cities there are now many who
never live that life of parentage which is the
natural life of man. Here, as with the ants,
this thing has become a normal condition of
the race, and the whole of such replacement as
is necessary falls upon this special and by no
means numerous class of matrons, the mothers
of the moon-world, large and stately beings
beautifully fitted to bear the larval Selenite.
Unless I misunderstand an explanation of
Phi-oo's, they are absolutely incapable of cher-
ishing the young they bring into the moon ;
periods of foolish indulgence alternate with
moods of aggressive violence, and as soon as
possible the little creatures, who are quite soft
and flabby and pale coloured, are transferred to
the charge of celibate females, women ' workers '
NATURAL HISTORY OF SELENITES 315
as it were, who in some cases possess brains of
almost masculine dimensions."
Just at this point, unhappily, this message
broke off. Fragmentary and tantalising as
the matter constituting this chapter is, it does
nevertheless givQ a vague, broad impression
of an altogether strange and wonderful world
— a world with which our own may have to
reckon we know not how speedily. This inter-
mittent trickle of messages, this whispering of
a record needle in the stilliness of the moun-
tain slopes, is the first warning of such a change
in human conditions as mankind has scarcely
imagined heretofore. In that satellite of ours
there are new elements, new appliances, new
traditions, an overwhelming avalanche of new
ideas, a strange race with whom we must in-
evitably struggle for mastery — gold as common
as iron or wood. . . .
THE GRAND LUNAR
The penultimate message describes, with occa-
sionally even elaborate detail, the encounter
between Cavor and the Grand Lunar, who is
the ruler or master of the moon. Cavor
seems to have sent most of it without inter-
ference, but to have been interrupted in the
concluding portion. The second came after
an interval of a week.
The first message begins : *' At last I am
able to resume this — " it then becomes
illegible for a space, and after a time re-
sumes in mid-sentence. , ;
The missing words of the following sentence
are probably '' the crowd." There follows
quite clearly: **grew ever denser as we drew
near the palace of the Grand Lunar — if I may
call a series of excavations a palace. Every-
where faces stared at me — blank, chitinous
gapes and masks, eyes peering over tremen-
dous olfactory developments, eyes beneath
THE GRAND LUNAR 317
monstrous forehead plates ; an undergrowth
of smaller creatures dodged and yelped, and
helmet faces poised on sinuous, long-jointed
necks appeared craning over shoulders and
beneath armpits. Keeping a welcome space
about me marched a cordon of stolid, scuttle-
headed guards, who had joined us on our
leaving the boat in which we had come along
the channels of the Central Sea. The quick-
eyed artist with the little brain joined us
also, and a thick bunch of lean porter-insects
swayed and struggled under the multitude of
conveniences that were considered essential
to my state. I was carried in a litter during the
final stage of our journey. This litter was made
of some very ductile metal that looked dark
to me, meshed and woven, and with bars of
paler metal, and about me as I advanced
there grouped itself a long and complicated
"In front, after the manner of heralds,
marched four trumpet-faced creatures making
a devastating bray ; and then came squat,
resolute-moving ushers before and behind,
and on either hand a galaxy of learned heads,
a sort of animated encyclopaedia, who were,
Phi-00 explained, to stand about the Grand
Lunar for purposes of reference. (Not a
3t8 the first men IN THE MOON
thing in lunar science, not a point of view
or method of thinking, that these wonderful
beings did not carry in their heads !) Fol-
lowed guards and porters, and then Phi-oo's
shivering brain borne also on a litter. Then
came Tsi-puff in a slightly less important
litter ; then myself on a litter of greater ele-
gance than any other, and surrounded by my
food and drink attendants. More trumpeters
came next, splitting the ear with vehement
outcries, and then several big brains, special
correspondents one might well call them, or
historiographers, charged with the task of
observing and remembering every detail of
this epoch-making interview. A company of
attendants, bearing and dragging banners and
masses of scented fungus and curious symbols,
vanished in the darkness behind. The way
was lined by ushers and officers in capari-
sons that gleamed like steel, and beyond
their line, so far as my eyes could pierce the
gloom, the heads of that enormous crowd ex-
*' I will own that I am still by no means
indurated to the peculiar effect of the Selenite
appearance, and to find myself, as it were, adrift
on this broad sea of excited entomology was
by no means agreeable. Just for a space I had
THE GRAND LUNAR 319
something very like what I should imagine
people mean when they speak of the * horrors.*
It had come to me before in these lunar
caverns, when on occasion I have found my-
self weaponless and with an undefended back,
amidst a crowd of these Selenites, but never
quite so vividly. It is, of course, as absolutely
irrational a feeling as one could well have,
and I hope gradually to subdue it. But just
for a moment, as I swept forward into the
welter of the vast crowd, it was only by grip-
ping my litter tightly and summoning all my
will-power that I succeeded in avoiding an
outcry or some such manifestation. It lasted
perhaps three minutes ; then I had myself in
'*We ascended the spiral of a vertical way
for some time and then passed through a series
of huge halls, dome-roofed and elaborately de-
corated. The approach to the Grand Lunar
was certainly contrived to give one a vivid
impression of his greatness. Each cavern one
entered seemed greater and more boldly arched
than its predecessor. This effect of progressive
size was enhanced by a thin haze of faintly
phosphorescent blue incense that thickened as
one advanced, and robbed even the nearer
figures of clearness. I seemed to advance
320 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
continually to something larger, dimmer, and
" I must confess that all this multitude made
me feel extremely shabby and unworthy. I was
unshaven and unkempt ; I had brought no
razor ; I had a coarse beard over my mouth.
On earth I have always been inclined to despise
any attention to my person beyond a proper
care for cleanliness ; but under the exceptional
circumstances in which I found myself, repre-
senting, as I did, my planet and my kind, and
depending very largely upon the attractiveness
of my appearance for a proper reception, I
could have given much for something a little
more artistic and dignified than the husks I
wore. I had been so serene in the belief that
the moon was uninhabited as to overlook such
precautions altogether. As it was I was dressed
in a flannel jacket, knickerbockers, and golfing
stockings, stained with every sort of dirt the
moon offered ; slippers (of which the left heel
was wanting), and a blanket, through a hole
in which I thrust my head. (These clothes,
indeed, I still wear.) Sharp bristles are any-
thing but an improvement to my cast of
features, and there was an unmended tear at
the knee of my knickerbockers that showed
conspicuously as I squatted in my litter ; my
THE GRAND LUNAR 321
•ight stocking, too, persisted in getting about
ny ankle. I am fully alive to the injustice my
ippearance did humanity, and if by any ex-
pedient I could have improvised something a
ittle out of the way and imposing I would have
lone so. But I could hit upon nothing. I
lid what I could with my blanket — folding it
somewhat after the fashion of a toga, and for
;he rest I sat as upright as the swaying of my
" Imagine the largest hall you have ever been
n, imperfectly lit with blue light and obscured
Dy a grey-blue fog, surging with metallic or
ivid-grey creatures of such a mad diversity as
[ have hinted. Imagine this hall to end in
m open archway beyond which is a still larger
lall, and beyond this yet another and still larger
)nej and so on. At the end of the vista, dimly
>een, a flight of steps, like the steps of Ara
Doeli at Rome, ascend out of sight. Higher
md higher these steps appear to go as one
Iraws nearer their base. But at last I came
inder a huge archway and beheld the summit
)f these steps, and upon it the Grand Lunar
exalted on his throne.
'* He was seated in what was relatively a
Dlaze of Incandescent blue. This, and the
iarkness about him, gave him an effect of
322 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
floating in a blue-black void. He seemed a
small, self-luminous cloud at first, brooding on
his sombre throne ; his brain case must have
measured many yards in diameter. For some
reason that I cannot fathom a number of blue
search-lights radiated from behind the throne
on which he sat, and immediately encircling
him was a halo. About him, and little and
indistinct in this glow, a number of body-
servants sustained and supported him, and
overshadowed and standing in a huge semi-
circle beneath him were his intellectual sub-
ordinates, his remembrancers and computators
and searchers and servants, and all the dis-
tinguished insects of the court of the moon.
Still lower stood ushers and messengers, and
then all down the countless steps of the
throne were guards, and at the base, enormous,
various, indistinct, vanishing at last into an
absolute black, a vast swaying multitude of
the minor dignitaries of the moon. Their
feet made a perpetual scraping whisper on
the rocky floor, their limbs moved with a
" As I entered the penultimate hall the music
rose and expanded into an imperial magni-
ficence of sound, and the shrieks of the news-
bearers died away. . . ,
The Grand Lunar
THE GRAND LUNAR 323
" I entered the last and greatest hall. . . .
*' My procession opened out like a fan. My
ushers and guards went right and left, and the
three litters bearing myself and PhI-00 and Tsl-
puff marched across a shiny darkness of floor
to the foot of the giant stairs. Then began
a vast throbbing hum, that mingled with the
music. The two Selenltes dismounted, but I
was bidden remain seated — I Imagine as a
special honour. The music ceased, but not
that humming, and by a simultaneous move-
ment of ten thousand respectful heads my atten-
tion was directed to the enhaloed supreme
intelligence that hovered above me.
" At first as I peered into the radiating glow
this quintessential brain looked very much like
an opaque, featureless bladder with dim, undu-
lating ghosts of convolutions writhing visibly
within. Then beneath its enormity and just
above the edge of the throne one saw with a
start minute elfin eyes peering out of the glow.
No face, but eyes, as If they peered through
holes. At first I could see no more than these
two staring little eyes, and then below I dis-
tinguished the little dwarfed body and its in-
sect-jointed limbs shrivelled and white. The
eyes stared down at me with a strange intensity,
and the lower part of the swollen globe was
324 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
wrinkled. Ineffectual-looking little hand-ten-
tacles steadied this shape on the throne. . . .
** It was great. It was pitiful. One forgot
the hall and the crowd.
" I ascended the staircase by jerks. It
seemed to me that this darkly glowing brain
case above us spread over me, and took more
and more of the whole eifect Into Itself as I
drew nearer. The tiers of attendants and
helpers grouped about their master seemed to
dwindle and fade into the night. I saw that
shadowy attendants were busy spraying that
great brain with a cooling spray, and pat-
ting and sustaining It. For my own part,
I sat gripping my swaying litter and staring
at the Grand Lunar, unable to turn my gaze
aside. And at last, as I reached a little land-
ing that was separated only by ten steps or so
from the supreme seat, the woven splendour
of the music reached a climax and ceased, and
I was left naked, as It were. In that vastness,
beneath the still scrutiny of the Grand Lunar's
*^ He was scrutinising the first man he had
ever seen. . . .
" My eyes dropped at last from his greatness
to the faint figures in the blue mist about him,
and then down the steps to the massed Selenites,
THE GRAND LUNAR 325
still and expectant in their thousands, packed on
the floor below. Once again an unreasonable
horror reached out towards me. . . . And
" After the pause came the salutation. I
was assisted from my litter, and stood awk-
wardly while a number of curious and no doubt
deeply symbolical gestures were vicariously per-
formed for me by two slender officials. The
encyclopaedic galaxy of the learned that had
accompanied me to the entrance of the last hall
appeared two steps above me and left and right
of me, in readiness for the Grand Lunar s need,
and Phi-oo's pale brain placed itself about
half-way up to the throne in such a j position
as to communicate easily between us without
turning his back on either the Grand Lunar or
myself. Tsi-puff took up a position behind
him. Dexterous ushers sidled sideways to-
wards me, keeping a full face to the Presence.
I seated myself Turkish fashion, and Phi-oo
and Tsi-puff also knelt down above me. There
came a pause. The eyes of the nearer court
went from me to the Grand Lunar and came
back to me, and a hissing and piping of expec-
tation passed across the hidden multitudes below
** That humming ceased.
326 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
** For the first and last time in my experience
the moon was silent.
" I became aware of a faint wheezy noise.
The Grand Lunar was addressing me. It was
like the rubbing of a finger upon a pane of
" I watched him attentively for a time, and
then glanced at the alert Phi-oo. I felt amidst
these slender beings ridiculously thick and fleshy
and solid ; my head all jaw and black hair.
My eyes went back to the Grand Lunar. He
had ceased ; his attendants were busy, and his
shining superficies was glistening and running
with cooling spray.
" Phi-oo meditated through an interval. He
consulted Tsi-puff. Then he began piping his
recognisable English — at first a little nervously,
so that he was not very clear.
*' ' M'm — the Grand Lunar — wishes to say —
wishes to say — he gathers you are — m'm — men
— that you are a man from the planet earth.
He wishes to say that he welcomes you—
welcomes you — and wishes to learn — learn, if
I may use the word — the state of your world,
and the reason why you came to this.'
"He paused. I was about to reply when he
resumed. He proceeded to remarks of which
the drift was not very clear, though I am in-
THE GRAND LUNAR 327
dined to think they were intended to be com-
plimentary. He told me that the earth was to
the moon what the sun is to the earth, and that
the Selenites desired very greatly to learn about
the earth and men. He then told me, no doubt
in compliment also, the relative magnitude and
diameter of earth and moon, and the perpetual
wonder and speculation with which the Selenites
had regarded our planet. I meditated with
downcast eyes, and decided to reply that men
too had wondered what might lie in the moon,
and had judged it dead, little recking of such
magnificence as I had seen that day. The
Grand Lunar, in token of recognition, caused
his long blue rays to rotate in a very con-
fusing manner, and all about the great hall ran
the pipings and whisperings and rustlings of
the report of what I had said. He then pro-
ceeded to put to Phi-00 a number of inquiries
which were easier to answer.
*' He understood, he explained, that we
lived on the surface of the earth, that our air
and sea were outside the globe ; the latter
part, indeed, he already knew from his astro-
nomical specialists. He was very anxious to
have more detailed information of what he
called this extraordinary state of affairs, for
from the solidity of the earth there had always
328 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
been a disposition to regard it as uninhabit-
able. He endeavoured first to ascertain the
extremes of temperature to which we earth
beings were exposed, and he was deeply inte-
rested by my descriptive treatment of clouds
and rain. His imagination was assisted by
the fact that the lunar atmosphere in the outer
galleries of the night side is not infrequently
very foggy. He seemed inclined to marvel
that we did not find the sunlight too intense
for our eyes, and was interested in my attempt
to explain that the sky was tempered to a
bluish colour through the refraction of the air,
though I doubt if he clearly understood that.
I explained how the iris of the human eyes
can contract the pupil and save the delicate
internal structure from the excess of sunlight,
and was allowed to approach within a few feet
of the Presence in order that this structure
might be seen. This led to a comparison of
the lunar and terrestrial eyes. The former is
not only excessively sensitive to such light as
men can see, but it can also see heat, and
every difference in temperature within the
moon renders objects visible to it.
** The iris was quite a new organ to the
Grand Lunar. For a time he amused himself
by flashing his rays into my face and watching
THE GRAND LUNAR 329
my pupils contract. As a consequence, I was
dazzled and blinded for some little time. . . .
" But in spite of that discomfort I found
something reassuring by insensible degrees in
the rationality of this business of question and
answer. I could shut my eyes, think of my
answer, and almost forget that the Grand
Lunar has no face. . . .
" When I had descended again to my proper
place the Grand Lunar asked how we sheltered
ourselves from heat and storms, and I ex-
pounded to him the arts of building and fur-
nishing. Here we wandered into misunder-
standings and cross-purposes, due largely, I
must admit, to the looseness of my expres-
sions. For a long time I had great difficulty
in making him understand the nature of a
house. To him and his attendant Selenites it
seemed, no doubt, the most whimsical thing in
the world that men should build houses when
they might descend into excavations, and an
additional complication was introduced by the
attempt I made to explain that men had
originally begun their homes in caves, and
that they were now taking their railways and
many establishments beneath the surface.
Here I think a desire for intellectual com-
pleteness betrayed me. There was also a
330 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
considerable tangle due to an equally unwise
attempt on my part to explain about mines.
Dismissing this topic at last in an incomplete
state, the Grand Lunar inquired what we did
with the interior of our globe.
" A tide of twittering and piping swept into
the remotest corners of that great assembly
when it was at last made clear that we men
know absolutely nothing of the contents of the
world upon which the immemorial generations
of our ancestors had been evolved. Three
times had I to repeat that of all the 4000 miles
of substance between the earth and its centre
men knew only to the depth of a mile, and
that very vaguely. I understood the Grand
Lunar to ask why had I come to the moon
seeing we had scarcely touched our own planet
yet, but he did not trouble me at that time to
proceed to an explanation, being too anxious
to pursue the details of this mad inversion of
all his ideas.
"He reverted to the question of weather,
and I tried to describe the perpetually chang-
ing sky, and snow, and frost, and hurricanes.
* But when the night comes,' he asked, *is it
not cold ? '
*' I told him it was colder than by day.
*' * And does not your atmosphere freeze ? '
THE GRAND LUNAR 331
*' I told him not ; that it was never cold
enough for that, because our nights were so
" * Not even liquefy ? '
*' I was about to say 'No,' but then it oc-
curred to me that one part at least of our
atmosphere, the water vapour of it, does some-
times liquefy and form dew, and sometimes
freeze and form frost — a process perfectly
analogous to the freezing of all the external
atmosphere of the moon during its longer
night. I made myself clear on this point, and
from that the Grand Lunar went on to speak
with me of sleep. For the need of sleep that
comes so regularly every twenty-four hours to
all things is part also of our earthly inherit-
ance. On the moon they rest only at rare
intervals, and after exceptional exertions.
Then I tried to describe to him the soft splen-
dours of a summer night, and from that I
passed to a description of those animals that
prowl by night and sleep by day. I told
him of lions and tigers, and here it seemed
as though we had come to a deadlock. For,
save in their waters, there are no creatures
in the moon not absolutely domestic and sub-
ject to his will, and so it has been for im-
memorial years. They have monstrous water
332 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
creatures, but no evil beasts, and the idea of
anything strong and large existing ' outside '
in the night is very difficult for them. . . .
[The record is here too broken to transcribe
for the space of perhaps twenty words or more.]
** He talked with his attendants, as I sup-
pose, upon the strange superficiality and un-
reasonableness of (man), who lives on the mere
surface of a world, a creature of waves and
winds, and all the chances of space, who can-
not even unite to overcome the beasts that
prey upon his kind, and yet who dares to
invade another planet. During this aside I
sat thinking, and then at his desire I told him
of the different sorts of men. He searched me
with questions. ' And for all sorts of work
you have the same sort of men. But who
thinks ? Who governs ? '
*' I gave him an outline of the democratic
" When I had done he ordered cooling
sprays upon his brow, and then requested me
to repeat my explanation, conceiving some-
thing had miscarried.
*' ' Do they not do different things, then?'
" Some I admitted were thinkers and some
officials ; some hunted, some were mechanics.
THE GRAND LUNAR 333
some artists, some toilers. * But a/l rule/ I
" * And have they not different shapes to fit
them to their different duties ? *
** * None that you can see,' I said, * except,
perhaps, for clothes. Their minds perhaps
differ a little/ I reflected.
** * Their minds must differ a great deal,'
said the Grand Lunar, * or they would all want
to do the same things.*
"In order to bring myself into a closer har-
mony with his preconceptions I said that his
surmise was right. ' It was all hidden in the
brain,' I said ; * but the difference was there.
Perhaps if one could see the minds and souls
of men they would be as varied and unequal
as the Selenites. There were great men and
small men, men who could reach out far and
wide, and men who could go swiftly ; noisy,
trumpet-minded men, and men who could re-
member without thinking. . . . [The record
is indistinct for three words.]
"He interrupted me to recall me to my
previous statement. * But you said all men
rule?' he pressed.
** * To a certain extent,' I said, and made,
I fear, a denser fog with my explanation.
"He reached out to a salient fact. ' Do
334 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
you mean,' he asked, * that there is no Grand
Earthly ? '
'' I thought of several people, but assured
him finally there was none. I; explained that
such autocrats and emperors as we had tried
upon earth had usually ended in drink, or vice,
or violence, and that the large and influential
section of the people of the earth to w^hich I
belonged, the Anglo-Saxons, did not mean to
try that sort of thing again. At which the
Grand Lunar was even more amazed.
** ' But how do you keep even such wisdom
as you have ? ' he asked ; and I explained to
him the way we helped our limited [a word
omitted here, probably " brains "] with libraries
of books. I explained to him how our science
was growing by the united labours of innumer-
able little men, and on that he made no com-
ment save that it was evident we had mastered
much in spite of our social savagery, or we
could not have come to the moon. Yet the
contrast was very marked. With knowledge
the Selenites grew and changed ; mankind
stored their knowledge about them and re-
mained brutes — equipped. He said this . . .
[Here there is a short piece of the record
"He then caused me to describe how we
THE GRAND LUNAR 335
went about this earth of ours, and I described
to him our railways and ships. For a time
he could not understand that we had had the
use of steam only one hundred years, but when
he did he was clearly amazed. (I may mention
as a singular thing that the Selenites use years
to count by, just as we do on earth, though
I can make nothing of their numeral system.
That, however, does not matter, because Phi-00
understands ours.) From that I went on to tell
him that mankind had dwelt in cities only for
nine or ten thousand years, and that we were
still not united in one brotherhood, but under
many different forms of government. This
astonished the Grand Lunar very much, when
it was made clear to him. At first he thought
we referred merely to administrative areas.
*' ' Our States and Empires are still the rawest
sketches of what order will some day be,' I
said, and so I came to tell him. . . . [At this
point a length of record that probably repre-
sents thirty or forty words is totally illegible.]
** The Grand Lunar was greatly impressed
by the folly of men in clinging to the incon-
venience of diverse tongues. * They want
to communicate, and yet not to communicate,'
he said, and then for a long time he questioned
me closely concerning war.
336 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
** He was at first perplexed and incredulous.
* You mean to say/ he asked, seeking confirma-
tion, ' that you run about over the surface of
your world — this world, whose riches you have
scarcely begun to scrape — killing one another
for beasts to eat ? '
" I told him that was perfectly correct.
"He asked for particulars to assist his
imagination. ^ But do not ships and your
poor little cities get injured ? ' he asked, and
I found the waste of property and conveniences
seemed to impress him almost as much as the
killing. * Tell me more,' said the Grand Lunar ;
* make me see pictures. I cannot conceive
** And so, for a space, though something loth,
I told him the story of earthly War.
** I told him of the first orders and cere-
monies of war, of warnings and ultimatums,
and the marshalling and marching of troops.
I gave him an idea of manoeuvres and positions
and battle joined. I told him of sieges and
assaults, of starvation and hardship in trenches,
and of sentinels freezing in the snow. I told
him of routs and surprises, and desperate last
stands and faint hopes, and the pitiless pursuit
of fugitives and the dead upon the field. I
told, too, of the past, of invasions and mas-
THE GRAND LUNAR 337
sacres, of the Huns and Tartars, and the wars
of Mahomet and the Caliphs, and of the Cru-
sades. And as I went on, and Phi-00 trans-
lated, the Selenites cooed and murmured in
a steadily intensified emotion.
" I told them an ironclad could fire a shot
of a ton twelve miles, and go through 20 ft.
of iron — and how we could steer torpedoes
under water. I went on to describe a Maxim
gun in action, and what I could imagine of the
Battle of Colenso. The Grand Lunar was so
incredulous that he interrupted the translation of
what I had said in order to have my verification
of my account. They particularly doubted my
description of the men cheering and rejoicing
as they went into (? battle).
*' * But surely they do not like it ! ' translated
" I assured them men of my race considered
battle the most glorious experience of life, at
which the whole assembly was stricken with
*' ' But what good is this war ? ' asked the
Grand Lunar, sticking to his theme.
**'Oh! as ioY good!' said I ; ' it thins the
population ! '
" ' But why should there be a need — ?' . . .
*' There came a pause, the cooling sprays
338 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
impinged upon his brow, and then he spoke
At this point a series of undulations that have been
apparent as a perplexing complication as far back as Cavor's
description of the silence that fell before the first speaking
of the Grand Lunar become confusingly predominant in
the record. These undulations are evidently the result
of radiations proceeding from a lunar source, and their
persistent approximation to the alternating signals of Cavor
is curiously suggestive of some operator deliberately seeking
to mix them in with his message and render it illegible.
At first they are small and regular, so that with a little care
and the loss of very few words we have been able to dis-
entangle Cavor's message ; then they become broad and
larger, then suddenly they are irregular, with an irregularity
that gives the effect at last of some one scribbling through
a line of writing. For a long time nothing can be made of
this madly zigzagging trace ; then quite abruptly the inter-
ruption ceases, leaves a few words clear, and then resumes
and continues for all the rest of the message, completely
obliterating whatever Cavor was attempting to transmit.
Why, if this is indeed a deliberate intervention, the Selenites
should have preferred to let Cavor go on transmitting his
message in happy ignorance of their obliteration of its
record, when it was clearly quite in their power and much
more easy and convenient for them to stop his proceedings
at any time, is a problem to which I can contribute nothing.
The thing seems to have happened so, and that is all I can
say. This last rag of his description of the Grand Lunar
begins in mid-sentence : —
'' interrogated me very closely upon my
secret. I was able in a little while to get to
an understanding with them, and at last to
THE GRAND LUNAR 339
elucidate what has been a puzzle to me ever
since I realised the vastness of their science,
namely, how it is they themselves have never
discovered * Cavorite.' I find they know of it
as a theoretical substance, but they have always
regarded it as a practical impossibility, because
for some reason there is no helium in the moon,
and helium "
Across the last letters of helium slashes the resumption
of that obliterating trace. Note that word ''secret," for
on that, and that alone, I base my interpretation of the
message that follows, the last message, as both Mr. Wen-
digee and myself now believe it to be, that he is ever
likely to send us.
THE LAST MESSAGE CAVOR SENT TO THE EARTH
In this unsatisfactory manner the penultimate
message of Cavor dies out. One seems to see
him away there in the blue obscurity amidst his
apparatus intently signalling us to the last, all
unaware of the curtain of confusion that drops
between us ; all unaware, too, of the final dangers
that even then must have been creeping upon
him. His disastrous want of vulgar common
sense had utterly betrayed him. He had talked
of war, he had talked of all the strength and
irrational violence of men, of their insatiable
aggressions, their tireless futility of conflict.
He had filled the whole moon world with this
impression of our race, and then I think it is
plain that he made the most fatal admission
that upon himself alone hung the possibility
— at least for a long time — of any further men
reaching the moon. The line the cold, inhuman
reason of the moon would take seems plain
enough to me, and a suspicion of it, and then
THE LAST MESSAGE CAVOR SENT 341
perhaps some sudden sharp realisation of it,
must have come to him. One imagines him
going about the moon with the remorse of this
fatal indiscretion growing in his mind. Dur-
ing a certain time I am incHned to guess the
Grand Lunar was deliberating the new situa-
tion, and for all that time Cavor may have
gone as free as ever he had gone. But
obstacles of some sort prevented his getting
to his electro-magnetic apparatus again after
that message I have just given. For some
days we received nothing. Perhaps he was
having fresh audiences, and trying to evade
his previous admissions. Who can hope to
And then suddenly, like a cry in the night,
like a cry that is followed by a stillness, came
the last message. It is the briefest fragment,
the broken beginnings of two sentences.
The first was : " I was mad to let the Grand
Lunar know "
There was an interval of perhaps a minute.
One imagines some interruption from without.
A departure from the instrument— a dreadful
hesitation among the looming masses of appa-
ratus in that dim, blue-lit cavern — a sudden
rush back to it, full of a resolve that came
too late. Then, as if it were hastily trans-
342 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON
mitted, came : *' Cavorite made as follows :
There followed one word, a quite unmeaning
word as it stands : ** uless."
And that is all.
It may be he made a hasty attempt to spell
*' useless" when his fate was close upon him.
Whatever It was that was happening about that
apparatus we cannot tell. Whatever it was we
shall never, I know, receive another message
from the moon. For my own part a vivid
dream has come to my help, and I see, almost
as plainly as though I had seen it in actual
fact, a blue -lit shadowy dishevelled Cavor
struggling in the grip of these insect Selenites,
struggling ever more desperately and hope-
lessly as they press upon him, shouting, ex-
postulating, perhaps even at last fighting, and
being forced backward step by step out of all
speech or sign of his fellows, for evermore into
the Unknown — into the dark, into that silence
that has no end. . . .
GEORGE NBWNSS, LIMITED, LONDON.
3' -^ '^ -x^
, ^r .# . ~^.. '- ^-3
\ I 8
^ * ., ., n ^